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N.H. court to hear case on reading texts while driving

CONCORD, N.H. — Chad Belleville of Barnstead was driving to pick up Chinese food in December 2010 when he looked down at his cellphone to read a text message.

‘‘The next thing you know, I crashed,’’ he told a state trooper.

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The New Hampshire Supreme Court will hear arguments Thursday in his appeal of his vehicular assault and second-degree assault convictions in a case Belleville’s lawyer says should strike a nerve in any driver with a cellphone.

Texting while driving is against the law in New Hampshire, but reading a text message while driving is not.

In Belleville’s case, prosecutors will argue his ‘‘persistent and continued inattention’’ led to the accident that left a teenage boy with a traumatic brain injury.

Belleville’s car crossed a median lane and barely missed one car, prosecutors say, before hitting the car in which Donald Flanders III was riding. Flanders was thrown from the car. Investigators ruled out speed and alcohol as factors.

Belleville, 30, is serving a 3½- to 7-year sentence.

‘‘It’s not a burglary or an armed robbery,’’ said David Rothstein, Belleville’s lawyer. ‘‘This is a case where you say, ‘Gosh, I might have done that. I have done that.’ ’’

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