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Connecticut and ther hands free law

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by K1PIX, Oct 30, 2013.

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  1. K1PIX

    K1PIX Ham Member QRZ Page

    can someone answer me a question ??
    There is a rumor going around that Connecticut has recinded its
    hands free ruling for ham radio operators as of Nov 1st 2013
    is there any truth to this and should i hold off going out and buying a head set
  2. N1EN

    N1EN Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    It goes something like this:

    Connecticut's "no handheld cell phones while driving" law defines the object of the legislation ("wireless telecommunications devices") in such a way that amateur radios are not included in the scope of the law when used for voice communications. Shortly after the law was originally passed, a legislator even asked the General Assembly's research unit about whether hams were impacted by the law, and the verdict was essentially: the law's not worded well, but we don't think so.

    A couple of years ago, a couple of well-known CT hams were ticketed by cops for violating the cell-phone law while talking on their mobiles. One of them just paid the ticket, but another went to court and had the ticket thrown out because amateur radios aren't covered by the law.

    To avoid future misunderstandings, a few hams talked a friendly legislator into introducing an amendment to the law to more clearly exclude amateur radio from the bill. That exclusion went into force last year.

    Then the state DOT went to apply for a federal grant to combat texting while driving. The feds deemed the amateur radio exclusion to be noncompliant with conditions for the grant. So, in the interests of getting a $500,000 federal handout, the General Assembly made the amateur radio exclusion apply only in case of emergency. That change went into force on 1 October. The definition of "wireless telecommunications device" still doesn't really include amateur radios when used for voice communications, but other parts of the law do make reference to hand-held devices and data use while driving (or while stopped on a public road). Also, holding something that looks like a phone near your ear or mouth while driving (or stopped on a public road) is grounds for a cop to stop you in CT.

    So, as near as I can tell (I'm not a lawyer, but I've read the law and I deal with legislative-speak as part of my job), the current state of the law in Connecticut for hams is:

    • Operating RTTY, PSK, D*Star text, APRS text, or another data mode while driving is probably illegal.
    • Talking on an HT while driving might require a hands-free device to be legal.
    • Talking into a handheld mic of an installed mobile radio is legal....but that might not protect you from getting a ticket and needing to argue the legality before a judge.
    • Operating CW while driving is debatable...but I doubt a judge would react favorably.

    Or, to make it simpler: if you don't want to get a ticket, get a hands-free device. Even if using a mic is legal, a cop might not appreciate the nuances of the law. But I haven't heard of anyone having gotten a ticket since the law changed, either.
  3. KC9UDX

    KC9UDX Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    In my experience, "hands free" would be nice just to keep the tailgaters from getting upset, nevermind the law.
  4. W7MMQ

    W7MMQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Darn better go get that keyboard out of my car then
  5. WJ4U

    WJ4U Subscriber QRZ Page

    I don't think a headset while mobile would be legal. They aren't here.
  6. KC9UDX

    KC9UDX Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    I don't know about the law anywhere else but here, but they are legal here, provided one ear is uncovered.

    Frankly, I can't imagine driving with anything covering either ear. I do have a speaker that's very close to my ear and that works great. I don't know what I'd do for a hands-free microphone though.
  7. WW7F

    WW7F Guest

    There are headsets that just have a mic, no earphone(s), I would rather use it sans headphones anyhow or one ear covered.
  8. WJ4U

    WJ4U Subscriber QRZ Page

  9. MI0OIM

    MI0OIM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm a long way away, but we have a no mobile phone while driving law here.

    it specifically lists the naughty freqs and none of the ham bands are there.

    now, using a mike and driving CAN be dangerous from a purely practical reason, and you can be pulled over and ticketed for careless driving, but the act of actually using the mike to speak is fine.

    I was pulled over by a cop a few months back when I was driving perfectly OK, but chatting on the 2m repeater.

    He first asked if I was working as a taxi (no visible licence on display and a bigger fine than using a phone)

    I said no, and asked if there was anything else?

    He said, you know you're not allowed use a microphone when you're driving don't you?

    I very politely explained, that, yes, I was, just as HE was when he was driving his patrol car.

    he wasn't sure........

    but then I'm a teacher, and used to getting my own way, so I told him that as he already had my details from his dispatcher, I would deliver a copy of the relevant legislation to the station, and if HE was right, he was welcome to come get me at his leisure.

    he said that wouldn't be necessary and went back to the car.

    I now carry a copy of both my licence and the mobile law in my glove box.
  10. WR3T

    WR3T Ham Member QRZ Page


    This *might* work with a new-ish car's handsfree system, too.
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