New Jersey Drivers Need to Be Aware of Cell Phone Laws

There are few people who aren’t completely tied to their cell phones: we rely on these devices for communicating with loved ones and finding our way to unfamiliar places, for convenient shopping and for an efficient way to get work done. But as cell phones have put increased abilities in the palm of our hands, they have also demanded increased responsibility, especially for those who use the devices when they are behind the wheel. The state of New Jersey has some of the toughest laws in the country regarding texting and driving: not only is it illegal to text and drive, but you can be pulled over for doing it without having committed any other violation, and if you’re caught texting and driving you are subject to heavy fines.

New Jersey’s laws are designed to send a strong message to drivers not to text and drive, and there is good reason behind them. Drivers who text are not keeping their eyes on the road, and this can result in significant injury to other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. Though you may think that you are still paying attention to what is happening on the road ahead of you, studies have shown that texting requires much more visual, manual and cognitive attention than people realize.

The state has made texting and driving what is known as a primary offense which means that no other violation needs to accompany it for it to result in a driver being pulled over. The state has imposed the following financial penalties and driving point penalties for texting and driving:

  • First-time texting and driving offense – Between $200 and $400
  • Second-time texting and driving offense – Between $400 and $600
  • Subsequent texting and driving offenses – Fines between $600 and $800 as well as the assessment of three points on the driving record that can raise insurance rates and lead to the loss of driving privileges

It is also important to note that if a driver who has been texting while driving is found responsible for injuring another driver, passenger or pedestrian, they can be charged with an indictable crime or felony that carries between 6 and 18 months in jail and a $10,000 fine, and if a death results from the incident then the jail time increases to five to ten years and the fine to $150,000. They can also be held responsible in civil court for the losses they are responsible for.

Though you may be tempted to simply pay the fine after having been charged with texting and driving, it is important that you remember that this payment is an admission of guilt, and will therefore automatically lead to you being subject to the next level of penalty if your are charged again.  There are defenses that are available to those who are charged, and hiring an attorney to represent you may be worthwhile, especially if you believe that you were not in violation of the law. Our law firm can obtain a copy of your cell phone bill or cross examine the officer regarding why they believed you were texting: both strategies have proven successful. For more information on how we can help, contact us today to set up an appointment.