NEW PENALTIES FOR USING A CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING
There’s no doubt distracted driving has resulted in countless accidents, causing injuries and deaths, some say on the scale of those involving alcohol or drugs. Consequently, New Jersey has now followed several other states and enacted a stricter law, concerning the use of handheld.
The prior penalty for violating New Jersey’s cell phone or texting laws was $100.
Effective July 1, 2014, the fines for talking or texting on a hand-held wireless communications device will increase, even of you’re using them as a GPS. First time offenders will face a minimum fine of at least $200.
The minimum fine associated with a second offense will increase to at least $400 and drivers who are caught a third time will face a minimum fine of at least $600, a possible 90-day suspension of their driver’s license and will be assessed (3) three motor vehicle penalty points. You should be aware that an officer can pull you over for the offense without having to witness some other violation, meaning he can pull you over and issue the ticket for simply witnessing you using the phone, even if it’s being used as a GPS.
Here’s even more bad news, prior convictions, that occurred before the date of the new law, will still count as prior offense(s), thereby subjecting you to the increased penalties. Before the new law, I rarely recommended a person seek legal representation, since the penalties only involved a fine and no motor vehicle points, unless there was an accident involving injuries and other charges. You may remember that prior to the new law, some towns allowed people to plead guilty to a cell phone violation, as downgrade from a ticket that did carry points. These will now be used against you. Therefore, due to the inclusion of previous convictions, and the possibility of a license suspension and significant points, I’d recommend you consult an attorney.
Cell Phone Safety Tips:
Turn your phone off or put ring on silent to avoid the urge to answer.
Put your phone in a secure location that is easy to reach, in case of emergency.
Never dial while driving, move to a safe area off of the road.
Prior to driving, store important contact information in your phone.
Use a hands-free unit so that both of your hands are on the steering wheel at all times.
Become familiar with your phone’s speed dialing and voice-activation features to minimize dialing.
Prior to driving, set up your voice-mail to take messages.
Please be safe out there.