Penalties increase in New Jersey for texting and talking while driving

Authorities in New Jersey take distracted driving very serious, especially when the distracted driving is attributed to drivers that are too busy using their cellphones to pay attention to the road. In fact, back in 2007, New Jersey was among the first wave of states to actually pass texting-while-driving bans.

At the time, New Jersey law already prohibited talking on a handheld cellphone while driving, but the addition of the anti-texting-while-driving provisions – as well as making these violations “primary” offenses – made New Jersey’s distracted driving laws some of the strictest in the nation. Even now, New Jersey is one of only nine states in the country that have a complete ban on all handheld cellphone use while driving.

Not ones to sit on their laurels, lawmakers in New Jersey recently passed another bill that will make the penalties governing cellphone use while driving even harsher in the Garden State – although the new penalties will not become effective until July of 2014.

Under current New Jersey law, drivers face a fine of $100 if caught illegally talking on a handheld cellphone or texting while behind the wheel, regardless of how many times they have been previously fines.

However, once the new penalties go into effect next July, drivers will not only face increased fines, but the fines will be on a graduated scale – meaning they get larger with each violation. For instance, under the recently passed New Jersey law, drivers will be fined a minimum of $200 and a maximum of $400 for their first texting-while-driving or handheld-cellphone-use offense.

Fines then increase to a minimum of $400 and a maximum of $600 for second offense and a minimum of $600 and a maximum of $800 for a third, and all subsequent offenses. In addition, the new law will permit judges to suspend offenders’ driving privileges for 90 days if it is their third, or subsequent, violation of the law.

Dangers of distracted driving

New Jersey motorists are fortunate in that their lawmakers have done a great deal to eliminate distracted driving, which, as everyone knows, can be very hazardous. In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that more than 3,300 died in car accidents involving distracted drivers in 2011 alone – with thousands more injured.

However, those injured by distracted drivers need to know that remedies may be available for their injuries. For example, they may be able to hold the distracted driver liable for damages, including medical costs and lost wages.

Accordingly, if you or a love one has been injured by a distracted driver, it is often best to seek the counsel of an experienced car accident injury attorney. A skilled attorney can help review the facts of your case and provide guidance as to your rights and options.

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