That Guy Holding A Sign On The Side Of The Road Could Be A Cop Looking For Drivers Breaking The Law

So you’re stopped at a traffic light, when you see something interesting out the window. Of course, you pull out your phone and snap a photo to let all your friends on social media see whatever crazy thing you just saw — which is exactly what New Hampshire police think you’ll do, in violation of the state’s laws on cell phone use behind the wheel. And sometimes, that spectacle by the side of the road has been staged by law enforcement to catch you in the act.

In one recent example, a woman received a $124 ticket after she snapped a photo at a red light of a man with a sign around his neck reading, “Repent! The end is near!” reports the Associated Press.

She said her daughter begged her to take the photo with her phone, and now she’s regretting fulfilling that request: shortly after she took the photo she was pulled over and told the man with the sign was an undercover officer — and he’d just seen her breaking the state’s new law against using phones or other electronic devices while driving.

She says she doesn’t usually use her phone behind the wheel, but was unaware that the new law applies to vehicles that are stopped at stop signs or traffic lights. Her plan is to appeal the ticket.

“I just think it’s a stinky way to do it,” she told the AP of her experience, which was first reported by Foster’s Daily Democrat. “Granted, should I have said no to my daughter? Probably, yes. But I wasn’t even thinking of the law at the time.”

New Hampshire isn’t the only state where police departments are coming up with new ways to take down drivers using their phones behind the wheel: state police in New York use unmarked SUVs to help officers get a peek at drivers’ hands from a higher vantage point, while in California, San Bernardino police officers have posed as panhandlers… but with signs that say they’re not homeless, they’re just looking for seatbelt and cell phone violations.

One police chief in New Hampshire said when the law first took effect in July, he didn’t see as many drivers using their phones. The problem has returned, however, prompting the department to think creatively.

“About two weeks ago, I was sitting in an unmarked car watching traffic, and everyone and their brother was on their phone,” he said. “So we were looking at innovative ways to maybe come down on people.”

Repent! Undercover New Hampshire cops nab cell ban violators [Associated Press]