What You Need to Know: Cell Phone Laws in New Jersey
Distracted driving, specifically as it relates to cell phone use, has become an increasing problem nationwide, causing many states to crack down on talking and texting while operating a vehicle. New Jersey is one of these states that recognizes the growing hazard and continues to propose amendments to legislation in an attempt to make the roads safer for all motorists and pedestrians.
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.
If you are a New Jersey driver, there are a few additional things you should know about the state’s current cell phone laws:
Existing Guidelines on Driving and Cell Phone Use
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.
Penalties for Not Complying with the Law
New Jersey’s laws on cell phone use are known as primary laws. That means a police officer doesn’t need any other reason to pull you over and cite you for unlawfully talking or texting. For the first offense, the penalty is a $200-$400 fine. This increases to $400-$600 for the second offense, and any subsequent offense will receive a $600-$800 fine, three points on your license, and a potential 90-day license suspension. There may also be court fees incurred on top of these penalties.
What Happens If an Accident Occurs Because of Cell Phone Use?
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.
Been Injured in a Cell-Phone-Related Incident?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a cell-phone-related accident through no fault of your own, you may have the right to seek compensation. Our experienced New Jersey car accident attorneys at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., are qualified to provide the representation you need to hold the negligent driver responsible for his or her actions. Call our office at (609) 240-0040 to discuss the steps you should take next.
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