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Hassan signs human trafficking, cell phone bills

Gov. Maggie Hassan has signed into law a measure that strengthens New Hampshire’s laws against human trafficking, as well as a bill banning handheld cell phone use while driving as of July 1 of next year.

Hassan said the human trafficking bill, which she signed Friday, takes significant steps to strengthen protections for victims and reinforcing New Hampshire’s commitment to equal justice for all.

The bill, which had strong bipartisan support, protects juveniles from being prosecuted for being forced to perform illegal acts, allows victims to sue traffickers, increases penalties against trafficking and allows victims to expunge their record.

Advocates said New Hampshire is ranked the second-worst state in the legal protections offered to trafficking victims. The bill is the product of the Attorney General’s Task Force on Human Trafficking.

The handheld cell phone ban while driving measure Hassan signed Friday continues to allow adults to talk on cell phones while driving if they use hands-free phones, devices built into the vehicle and two-way radios. It also bans all cell phone use by minors behind the wheel.

The ban will apply while drivers are stopped temporarily, such as at a red light, but not if they have pulled over and stopped. The bill doesn’t apply in an emergency.

Offenders will face a $100 fine for a first offense, a $250 fine for a second offense and a $500 fine for subsequent offenses within 24 months.

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