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Tough new laws for texters, teens, drunks

New legislation requires the driver's license written exam to include on question on the state's law prohibiting texting or using a hand-held cellphone while driving.

New Hampshire: Child-restraint law changed.

A new law requires anyone driving with a passenger under the age of seven to make sure the child is properly fastened and secured by a child-restraint system, unless the child is at least 57 inches tall.  Previously, it was age six and 55 inches tall.

Oregon: Don't smoke with a child in the car.

As of Jan. 1, smoking in a motor vehicle when a person under the age of 18 is present is illegal.  The fine is $250 for a first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses.  It is a secondary offense.

Fines for texting or using a handheld cellphone while driving have been raised to a maximum of $500 by raising the offense from a Class D to Class C traffic violation.

Vermont: Fines increased for texting and driving.

The state made it illegal to use handheld portable electronic devices when driving in posted work zones.  The fine is between $100 and $200 for a first offense and $250 to $500 for a second or subsequent violation within a two-year period (the same fine amounts that went into effect for texting while driving in July 2013).

Points for certain “distracted driving” violations have increased. The state will assess two points for a first offense of using a portable electronic device in a work zone and five points for a second or subsequent offense. Texting while driving will now be assigned five points for a first offense.  Previously, it was two points for your first ticket and then five points for any subsequent violations for texting.

On May 1, 2014, it will become illegal to allow your vehicle to idle for more than five minutes in any 60-minute period, while the vehicle is stationary.  Exceptions are granted for certain types of vehicles, such as military and buses, and situations. For example, if idling is necessary to operate safety equipment, maintenance purposes or if traffic conditions cause a vehicle to remain stationary.

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