New Distracted Driving Law for NJ Targets Texters
A new state law in New Jersey that goes into effect on July 23, 2017 takes stronger measures to crack down on distracted driving, specifically focusing on those who text while driving. With the help of the #77 hotline that the state initially set up to report aggressive or drunk driving, the hotline can be used to report those who are texting while driving.
Furthermore, the state is relaunching the hotline with the notice that texters will now receive a letter from the state informing them they were observed driving while distracted. The letter will further inform them of the penalties if police ticket them for texting and driving. (NJ.com) The state does not issue tickets based upon #77 calls, but the letter will clearly outline the penalties for being caught by a policeman for texting while driving:
First offense: a $400 fine,
Second offense: a $600 fine,
Third offense: an $800 fine plus a license suspension of ninety days, with motor vehicle points on the driver’s license.
The letter also states that if a distracted driver is judged to be the cause of a traffic accident that results in the death or injury of another person, that driver will face criminal charges and possible prison time. (NJ.com)
New Jersey is said to already have one of the strongest distracted driving laws in the United States, yet with accidents up from 2015 by eight per cent in 2016, the state determined that more effort was needed to curb the issue of texting while driving. (NJ.com)
According to New Jersey’s Department of Motor Vehicles, the current cell phone ban allows for “primary enforcement” which means that if police see a driver using a cell phone, “they do not need to observe another violation in order to pull you over for distracted driving.” (DMV.com) However, use of a hands-free device is not a violation of the distracted driving law, and is actually encouraged by the state if the driver must use a phone during the time of driving. (NJ.com)
If you are facing municipal court charges or traffic violations, contact our office, CLDDS criminal defense attorney, Peter M. Draper, Esq. is here to help you.