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Oct 1, 2015 5:19 PM

Nearly 100 tickets issued for 'hands-free' violators in Somersworth


SOMERSWORTH - The results of a week-long crackdown on drivers who were caught allegedly breaking the new hands-free law have been released.

The department has written 96 tickets since Sept. 18 to distracted drivers who were seen using an electronic device - 11 warnings were also issued.

"Recently, we have noticed that there have been a lot more people on phones," said Capt. David Kretschmar. “This will save lives, and that’s what we’re here for - to save lives.”

NH1 News first reported on the increased enforcement on Monday. The operation ended on Tuesday.

Officers went undercover to catch those using phones behind the wheel, posing as homeless individuals holding cardboard signs on Route 9.

One sign read: "Repent - the end is near."

That sign caught the attention of Michelle Tetreault, of Somersworth, who snapped a photo of the sign and man holding it for her daughter.

"I was stopped at a light, and honestly I didn’t even think about it," she told NH1 News earlier this week. “I think it’s very unfair for them to set people up like that.”

But other drivers said the enforecement is a welcome - and that adapting to using hands-free technology, like Bluetooth, should be common sense by now.

“I don’t think they’re doing it enough,” said Ray Bonenfant of the enforcement effort.

For police, the hope is that rather than the cost of a life - the cost of a ticket will be enough to get drivers to put their phones down.

“It is a lot of money for the first time use of a cell phone behind the wheel, but what can you do about it?” said Chris Murphy.

The department has rejected complaints that their effort was 'entrapment,' citing a pending court case.


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