Accidents Caused by Distracted Driving and Cell Phone Use
Originally published September 19, 2016. According to New Jersey’s former Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman, between 2004 and 2013 there were almost 3 million motor vehicle accidents throughout the state. Almost half of these involved distracted driving. As it relates to cell phone use, distracted driving has become an increasing problem nationwide, causing many states to crack down on talking and texting while operating a vehicle.
Driving and Cell Phone Use in New Jersey
Cell phone use is the number one distraction for drivers. This is because many drivers use their cell phones often and for long periods of time when they are behind the wheel. New Jersey has very strict laws about cell phone use while driving.
If you are caught talking or texting on a handheld cell phone or other wireless device, you will be fined $200-$400 for your first offense. For a second offense you will be fined $400-$600. For subsequent offenses you will be fined $600-$800. For your third and subsequent offenses you will also have three points added to your driving record and you may also incur a 90-day driver’s license suspension. There may also be court fees incurred on top of these penalties.
If a driver is found to have caused an accident while using a mobile device, there are serious consequences. When another person is injured, the driver may face 6–18 months in jail and a fine up to $10,000, depending on the severity of the injuries. If the accident resulted in someone’s death, the driver could be confronted with vehicular homicide charges, up to a $150,000 fine, and 5–10 years in jail.
As such, the use of handheld devices is strictly prohibited when behind the wheel with a few exceptions. These include a driver being in fear for his life or safety; to report a criminal act, traffic accident, fire, or road hazard; or to report a motorist suspected of driving under the influence. Presently, drivers are required to use a hands-free method for talking on a mobile device, such as Bluetooth, wired headset, or speakerphone. Engaging in texting or playing video games is always illegal while driving. Bus drivers and those under 21 with a learner’s permit or probationary license are not allowed to use cell phones in any capacity, even hands-free.
What to Do If You Are an Accident Victim Due to Distracted Driving
It can be tricky to prove that the responsible driver was using his or her cell phone at the time of the accident. An experienced car accident lawyer will be able to help you by finding evidence that proves the driver to be accountable. Your attorney may use the following types of evidence:
- The driver’s cell phone records
- Footage from traffic surveillance cameras
- Police reports
- Statements from eye witnesses
If you or a family member has been hurt in an accident in New Jersey, which was caused by a distracted driver, you need to talk to a lawyer to find out how you can recover compensation for expenses such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact the New Jersey distracted driving accident attorneys at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., today at (609) 240-0040. We have many years of experience working on distracted driving accident cases.
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