Police: Know the different laws before you travel

LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) – The long Memorial Day weekend is ahead and as you plan to start your trip, police hope you’ll follow the rules of the road wherever you go.

“There are quite a few Massachusetts drivers that do get stopped,” said Enfield Police Sgt. Mark Squires.

Sgt. Squires told the 22News I-Team that Massachusetts drivers frequently get traffic tickets in Connecticut. 22News is working for you with some of the biggest differences you need to know about while traveling in other nearby states.

First, be careful of your phone, you can talk behind the wheel in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, but it’s illegal in Connecticut and New York. Texting and driving isn’t allowed in any of these states.

“I know some people will want to go and check their text messages or whatever, I just let it sit until I’m in a better position to check the phone I think it’s more of a safety issue,” said Longmeadow’s Christopher Hodges.

Also, make sure you wear your safety this holiday weekend, if not just for the safety but also about the money. In states like Connecticut and Rhode Island it’s a primary offense. Meaning, if cops see you not wearing one, know that’s reason enough to pull you over.

If you’re caught violating the laws, you could be hit with hefty fines.

“For seat belt violation, you’re looking at $92, a texting or cell phone violation, your first offense is $150 second is $300 and the third is $500,” Sgt. Squires said.

Despite individual state laws, police across the country are enforcing the “Click-it or Ticket” campaign this weekend to keep all drivers safe. They’re hoping you play it safe no matter where you’re headed.

“There’s a lot of different things, a lot of people don’t know the differences, a lot of people getting tickets, I hear about it all the time, people getting tickets in Connecticut that live in Massachusetts and vice versa,” said Longmeadow’s Ethan Goldberg.

There’s also the move-over law and mandatory motorcycle helmet laws differ state to state.

See below to see specifics for each nearby state:

NEW HAMPSHIRE:

  • HELMETS: No helmet for anyone over the age of 18 years.
  • NO SEAT BELT LAW:  New Hampshire does not have a seat belt law for adults, although the state does have a primary child passenger safety law that covers all drivers and passengers under 18.
  • CELL PHONES:  Text messaging is banned for all drivers.
  • MOVE OVER: Oncoming motorists “to give a wide berth to stationary vehicles displaying emergency or warning lights when approaching highway emergencies.”  This also includes town trucks and state DOT crew vehicles.
  • IMPAIRED DRIVING: State Police increase traffic patrols during the holiday to curb impaired driving and speeding.
  • HEADLIGHTS: Headlights must be turned on: From one half-hour after sunset until one half-hour before sunrise and when visibility due to inclement weather is reduced to 1,000 feet or less.

MAINE:

  • HELMETS: If you are under the age of 15 and the passenger of a motorcycle or attached side car, or are the driver of an off-road motorcycle, you must wear protective headgear. You must also wear protective headgear if you are using a learner’s permit or are within one year of obtaining a motorcycle license.
  • PRIMARY SEAT BELT LAW: All persons in vehicle, including driver, must wear a seatbelt.
  • CELL PHONES: Text messaging is banned for all drivers. Young drivers no cell phone use.
  • MOVE OVER:  Drivers must move over and slow down for parked emergency vehicles and wreckers along Maine roads.
  • IMPAIRED DRIVING: State Police also announced Wednesday that there will be more than 40 different enforcement activities throughout Memorial Day weekend. Troopers will be on high alert for drunk and distracted drivers.
  • HEADLIGHTS: You must use your headlights:  A half hour after sunset and a half hour before sunrise, whenever weather and other atmospheric conditions make it difficult to clearly see people and other vehicles 1,000 feet away and whenever you use your windshield wipers.

RHODE ISLAND:

  • HELMETS: Passenger must wear a helmet; operator (even a teenager) does not.
  • PRIMARY SEAT BELT LAW: You can be pulled over for not wearing a seat belt.  All passengers must be wearing one.
  • CELL PHONES: No texting while driving, but can use phone for talking.
  • MOVE OVER: Move out of lane when a parked emergency vehicle has lights activated, or slow down if traffic is heavy and cannot change lanes.
  • IMPAIRED DRIVING: Extra details in place will be on the lookout for impaired drivers.

VERMONT:

  • HELMETS: Mandatory for operator and passenger and helmet must be DOT approved with the sticker visible.
  • SECONDARY SEAT BELT LAW: If you’re pulled over for another traffic violation and not wearing a seat belt, you will be ticketed.  All passengers must be wearing one.
  • CELL PHONES: No texting while driving.  New law for hands free doesn’t go into effect until Oct.1, 2014.
  • MOVE OVER: Move out of lane when a parked emergency vehicle has lights activated, or slow down if traffic is heavy and cannot change lanes.
  • IMPAIRED DRIVING: Extra details in place will be on the lookout for impaired drivers.

NEW YORK:

  • HELMETS: Mandatory for operator and passenger.
  • PRIMARY SEAT BELT LAW: A law enforcement officer can issue a traffic ticket just for failure to wear a seat belt. A ticket can be issued to the driver who fails to make sure a child passenger is properly secured in a safety seat or with a seat belt. This law also applies to visitors from outside New York State.  We are in the middle of the National Click It or Ticket Mobilization, so law enforcement nationwide is focused on safety restraint violations.
  • CELL PHONES: In New York State, if you are holding an electronic device in your hand while driving, you are violating the law.  Reading a text on the phone or looking in your directory is the same as texting.  Drivers may use their phone with a hands-free device only.  If they are looking at an electronic device, it must be attached to the vehicle, i.e. GPS.
  • MOVE OVER: If MA drivers are familiar with their law, they will not have to be concerned with violating ours.  Basically, they have these in common:
    1. Reduce speed (use due care) on approach;
    2. Move from the adjacent lane if such movement can be done safely;
    3. For all stationary emergency vehicles (red & white lights in NY/Blue in MA) and hazard vehicles (amber lights) = tow, maintenance, road construction etc.
  • IMPAIRED DRIVING: During all major holiday weekends, speeding and impaired driving are major causes of crashes, so extra efforts are focused there.
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