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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New York ham cited for talking while driving

From YNN:

Sunday morning, Steve Bozak (WB2IQU/HL9VX) took a drive to Troy. On the way, he talked to his buddies using his ham radio. But he didn't expect to talk to a police officer next.

Bozak said, "He assured me that I was not to be talking on that cell phone. I said this isn't a cell phone. It's an amateur radio. He said it's all the same."

Bozak was issued [a] ticket for talking on a mobile device while driving.

So it appears that law enforcement is targeting ham operators (and possibly CBers) who hold a handheld radio to their ear in order to hear what's being said.

I suppose the lesson here is to use a mobile with a very loud speaker, or whip it over to the curb every time you want to key the mic.

Don't get me wrong, I am not a fan of talking while driving (I can't recall how many times I've nearly been hit by someone distracted on their phone) but I have never had any problems while using a mobile or HT in my vehicle.

Bozak faces a $100 fine and plans to not only contest the ticket but seek an amendment to the state law to exempt ham operators from the statute.

Stay tuned, and drive safe.


  1. Not hot or spicy, but I do like that kind of Mustard! I wasnt even holding my rig up to my ear in the car... (that would be wrong) but he thought I should get a ticket solely for Ham radio use in the car, bummer! WB2IQU not driving while operating the radio, anymore!

  2. This was a topic of discussion on one of the local repeaters in the area. I'm sure Steve is familiar with the Mount Equinox and Killington machines that are located Vermont. There were a lot of other topics discussed as well along with emergency communications.

    Sorry to hear you got a ticket, Steve. It really makes me wonder why law enforcement isn't cracking down on people riding bikes without a helmet while talking on their cell phones in the road. Yes, I've seen it in New York. Or what about people who eat and drive at the same time? Don't get me wrong, I don't want law enforcement to be sitting outside of the McDonald's drive-thrus waiting to bust people who take the first bite out of their Big Mac, but couldn't these things count as distractive driving as well? On the flip side, I can kind of see why the officer made his choice in issuing a ticket, too. I still think you should contest it, however.

    Yes, I'd be all for an amendment to the state law excluding ham radio operators from the statute. Not changing the law could spell trouble for not only hams, but the truckers who use CB radios as a form of communication, or for ARES/RACES members who use ham radio as a mode of communication during special events and/or drills, and trained weather spotters who report conditions to the National Weather Service.

    73 de Andre

  3. I don't know what the law is in NY but in NJ a ham radio operator using his ham radio is exempt from the hands-free law.

    Consider a headset or in-ear bud with a PTT switch that can sit in your lap or be held in your hand while holding onto the steering wheel.

  4. A quick follow-up with 2 links...

    http://www.eham.net/articles/12676 is an article from 2005 for a similar incident in NY. Maybe there's something there you can use to try and get the charges discarded.

    This is info regarding ham radio and the hands-free law in NJ that explicitly exempts amateur radio operators - http://www.hudson.arrl.org/nnj/NJCellPhoneLaw.html