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Sep 28, 2015 5:51 PM

Somersworth police execute hands-free sting


SOMERSWORTH - A seacoast woman was fined for using her phone behind the wheel after being caught in a police sting.

Michelle Tetreault told NH1 News she was stopped at a red light with her daughter by the Route 9 Wal-Mart in Somersworth last week when the two spotted a man holding a sign reading, "Repent now. The end is near."

Both found the sign, and the man dressed in street clothes holding it, to be out of the ordinary - so her daughter asked her to snap a photo so she could post it on Instagram.

"I said ‘no, no, no, no.’ Then she said, 'Please, just take a quick picture!' So, I took the picture really quick for her – [and] passed her back her phone," Tetreault said.

Moments later, after she proceeded down the road, several police officers signaled to her to pull over. They told her the man holding the sign was an undercover police officer, and handed her a $124 ticket.

“I don’t see how it’s fair that they can set people up like that," she said.

But Somersworth Police say their enforcement is appropriate, and that efforts will continue to stop drivers from violating the state's Hands Free law that went into effect in July.

Just yesterday in Rye, a truck slammed into a fire hydrant and granite wall. Police said the driver was on their phone, using it as a GPS.

“Usually they got their heads down, and maybe they’re going slow or they’re weaving," said Margaret Aikens, who said she follows the Hands Free Law, and is upset with drivers who put her at risk. "They’re at a light or a stop sign and I’m like why are they not going? Thy light has turned green, and you’ve got to toot your horn a couple times.”

But Tetreault says in this case, it's police who should repent for setting her up with such a photogenic decoy.

“I wouldn’t have even have had a phone if it hadn’t been for the fact that he was holding a sign and my daughter wanted a picture on her phone," she said.

Tetreault knows the consequences of texting and driving all too well, however. Her brother-in-law was killed by a texting driver not too long ago.

She said she admits she was wrong to use her phone behind the wheel, and will pay the fine.


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