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Supreme Court Upholds Texting While Driving Conviction

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The New Hampshire Supreme Court has unanimously upheld a Barnstead man’s conviction for second-degree assault after he veered into the oncoming lane while checking a text message.

Chad Belleville, who’s serving a seven-year sentence, drifted across a center turning lane on Route 28 in Pittsfield on a cold December night in 2010. He narrowly missed one car, and slammed into a second, causing permanent brain damage to a 17-year-old passenger. Belleville immediately erased his cell phone’s call history, but later admitted to the police that he had been checking a text message when the accident occurred.

His lawyers argued that there was insufficient evidence to show he was driving negligently, but Wednesday the State Supreme Court concluded that this was more than just a case of momentary inattention, like from changing a radio station or sneezing. The justices rejected the appeal, calling Belleville’s conduct a quote “gross deviation from the conduct of a law-abiding citizen.”

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