NJ Increases Fines for Phone Use While Driving
Garden State lawmakers are determined to hammer home the point: don’t use your phone while driving. People who can’t abide by these rules will now face stiffer punishments, which went into effect on Tuesday, July 1.
- First time offenders caught talking or texting on their hand held devices while driving will face fines from $200 to $400.
- Second time abusers face a fine of $400 to $600.
- Each offense after the second is subject to a fine of $600 to $800, a three month suspension of driving privileges and three points assessed against violators’ driving records.
Drivers with hands-free devices are still discouraged from phone use while driving, but it is permitted as long as its use does not interfere with the operation of the vehicle. Handheld devices may only be used by drivers in the case of emergency, but the operator must keep one hand on the wheel at all times.
In mid-April, New Jersey Acting Attorney General John Hoffman reported that between the years 2004 and 2013, nearly half (1.4 million) of the approximately 3 million accidents in the state involved driver inattention. During the same stretch, more than 1,600 people were killed in NJ crashes where distracted driving was considered a key factor.
These stats show that despite the indisputable dangers known to be associated with distracted driving, the public can’t seem to put their phones down. In an April crackdown in NJ, police issued about 3,000 summonses, according to an Associated Press report.
If you’re one of the millions having trouble leaving your phone alone, here are some tips to help deter your behavior:
- Turn your phone to silent while driving to avoid the temptation of looking at it when it makes a sound.
- Put your phone in an easy to reach place, in case of an emergency.
- Don’t dial and drive; pull over.
- Use hands-free devices when possible, so you can keep both hands on the wheel.
- Take advantage of your phone’s speed dialing and voice command features to avoid dialing.
The attorneys at The Wilton Law Firm are experienced DUI/DWI and traffic violation attorneys serving clients throughout New Jersey. If you’ve been charged with a traffic crime, contact us today to discuss your case and set up a free consultation.