Thursday, April 17, 2014

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Hudson Valley

Ticketed for talking

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Albany/HV: Ticketed for talking
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These days, we all know talking on a cell phone while driving in New York State is a no no. But this past weekend, a local man was ticketed for using something else in a car. Our Erin Connolly has the story.

CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. --Sunday morning, Steve Bozak 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 this ticket for talking on a mobile device while driving. He says his ham radio may look like a phone, but it's not.

Bozak said, "It is not a cell phone and there is no dialing. It's not connected to the telephone service in any way. It's a two way radio. It's very similar to one the policeman had in his car at the moment."

The main difference between a ham radio and a cell phone is the ham radio is put to your mouth and the cell phone is put to your ear.

Arnold Proskin, a legal expert said, "It's not grey at all. It's black and white. The statute is very clear, very specific. It must be to your ear. It must be a cell phone and that's what we're talking about."

We reached out to Troy Police to get their take. They said since this case is ongoing, they didn't want to comment and potentially impact a judge's ruling. Meanwhile, Bozak says ham radios don't only allow people to communicate with one another, they can also provide a public service.

Bozak said, "If there is any natural disaster anywhere the amateur radio system will continue to stay up and running because we aren't connected to the grid."

Bozak's court date is later this month. He faces up to a $100 fine.

Bozak said, "I hope the law will be modified so all the other 3,000 ham operators driving across the Capital District can drive without the fear of a police car pulling us over. It's terribly inconvenient for all of us."

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