Assembly Panel Cracks Down On Reckless Drivers On Cell Phones

texting and drivingThe Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee today approved a bill sponsored cracking down on anyone who kills or injures another person while driving and illegally using a hand-held cell phone. The bill was sponsored by Assembly members Annette Quijano and Albert Coutinho.

“Tragedies like the ones the Kulesh and Kubert families endured are made all the more tragic by the fact that they could have been avoided if the other driver hadn’t been so careless,” said Quijano (D-Union).  “Hopefully these stiffer penalties will be a wake-up call to drivers who are willing to put their own life, as well as those of innocent other people, at risk.”

The bill (A-2816) is named “Kulesh and Kubert’s Law” after Helen Kulesh who was tragically killed by a person who was using a cell phone while driving, and David and Linda Kubert who were both severely injured by a driver who was illegally using a cell phone.

The bill would make it easier for prosecutors to obtain convictions for vehicular homicide or assault by auto against a person who illegally uses a cell phone while driving and, as a result, kills or injures someone. 

“Any driver willing to play Russian Roulette with other people’s lives should face the stiffest penalties possible,” said Coutinho (D-Essex/Union).  “Hopefully this bill will send a clear signal to drivers that unless they take personal responsibility, they will be facing much harsher consequences if a tragedy occurs.”

Under current law, a person is guilty of death by auto or assault by auto when it is proven that he or she drove a motor vehicle recklessly. This bill specifically provides that the illegal use of a hand-held wireless device while driving would give rise to an inference that the defendant was driving recklessly.
Vehicular homicide is generally a crime of the second degree, punishable by imprisonment of five to ten years, a fine of up to $150,000, or both.  Assault by auto is a crime of the fourth degree if serious bodily injury occurs and a disorderly persons offense if bodily injury occurs. A fourth degree crime is punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. The penalty for a disorderly persons offense is imprisonment for up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

The bill would also require the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to expand the driver’s license examination to include four questions regarding the penalties for using a cell phone while driving a motor vehicle. In addition to the motor vehicle penalties, the questions are to address possible criminal penalties that may be imposed under the bill if illegal cell phone use results in the death or injury of another person.

Finally, the bill would require the MVC to establish a public awareness campaign on the danger posed by using a cell while driving a motor vehicle and the possible criminal penalties that may be imposed if the death or injury of another person occurs.   

The provisions of the bill would take effect four months after being signed into law. TLS.

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  1. yeah, dont go after the root of the problem, which is driving while distarcted. go after them after they injure or kill people!

  2. stiifer penalties such as losing your license for being caught more then 3 Times in a 3month period for cell phone use is more of a detterant

  3. To #3, the stupidity of these remarks on this site from some, not all, amazes me. Of course, police can use their phones. That’s their job. Stay off YOUR phone when YOU drive; I do. If you need to make a call, pull over like most of the rest of us. That’s the law.

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