Assembly Pannel Approves $200-$600 Fines, License Suspension For Talking, Texting On Cell Phone While Driving

texting while driving2The Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee released the bill today which would increase fines for motorists who get caught more than once while driving and talking on a hand-held device or texting. “We need to send a louder message that cell phone use while driving is a serious, and often deadly, hazard,” said Annette Quijano (D-Union), one of the bill’s sponsors. “Most people know it’s wrong and have probably had a few scares themselves, but they continue to do it because they think they can get away with it.  Hopefully stiffer penalties will change our way of thinking.”

“Cell phone use while driving, particularly texting, has become almost an epidemic these days, a very dangerous epidemic,” said Spencer (D-Essex/Union).  “It’s our hope that the increased fines and suspension imposed by this bill will act as a further deterrent to these dangerous habits.”

Under current law, the fine for using a hand-held electronic device while driving is $100. This bill would increase the fine for a first offense to $200; the fine for a second offense to $250-400 a second offense; and to $500-600 for third or subsequent offenses.  The bill would also impose a 60-90 day driver’s license suspension for persons convicted of the offense for a third or subsequent time, at the court’s discretion, as well as a three motor vehicle penalty points.

The bill was also sponsored by L. Grace Spencer, Wayne DeAngelo, and Angel Fuentes.

Studies have shown that texting while driving is riskier than driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. One study by the Transport Research Laboratory found that the reaction time of motorists who were texting dramatically decreased by 35 percent, much worse than those who drank alcohol at the legal limit (12 percent slower) or those who had used marijuana (21 percent slower).

In addition, the research found that drivers who sent or read text messages were more prone to drift out of their lane, with steering control by texters 91 percent poorer than that of drivers devoting their full concentration to the road.

“No situation is that urgent that it warrants endangering yourself or others while driving,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer/Middlesex).  “Most of us got by much of our lives without phones in the car.  There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to put that habit on hold while we’re driving now.”

“Think about how many times you’re driving and you see someone looking down, not paying attention to the road, and they’re busy texting.  All it takes is a split second with your eyes off the road to cause a serious accident or even a death,” said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester). 

However, under the bill, if a person is convicted of a second offense more than 10 years after the first offense they would be treated as a first time offender for sentencing purposes.  Similarly, a person convicted of a third offense would be treated as a second-time offender for sentencing purposes if the third offense occurs more than ten years after the second offense.

The bill would go into effect on the first day of the 13th month following enactment. TLS.

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  1. can’t the Gov’t keep out of our lives enough of these outragous legislations drive around and you’ll see law enforcment officers as well as politicians and legislators themselves talking and texting on the phone. this is just another tax .

  2. This is a law that will never take place in Lakewood. Everyone is on the phone driving, even the police. So how are you going to implement what is right when you are doing wrong and breaking the law??? Imagine if you pulled everyone over that was doing this, there would be no time to do anything else. The police would be overwhelmed, not to say there would be a total traffic jam wherever we went,, like there isn’t already. So for everyones sake, DRIVE SAFE AND BASICALLY KNOCK OFF THE NONSENSE, which you won’t. Being in so much of a hurry, like you are acting like an ambulance driver, get over it. Might save a life and it could be yours…………..

  3. I say …..go for it! Start ticketing em all! It’s about time we makes the roads at least bearable.The driving in this town has gotten so out of hand. Total disregard for stop signs, yield signs, speed limits and of course disregard for human life while you text and talk on the phone.

  4. Just think…at $600 each, WOW! With everyone on the phone in this town on any given day, those fines could support the $22,000,000 buss expenses and could provide the money to fix all the roads that are in bad shape, and anything else that needs fixing.

    Of course we’ll need the State Police to do this.

  5. Can’t equate the danger of texting with talking on the phone.

    Texting is extremely dangerous. Talking is not a lot different than talking to a passenger in the car.

    Are we going to fine people for talking to other people in the car??

  6. I’ll admit I’ve talked and even texted while driving, but I’ve stopped. If someone told you to close your eyes while driving for 3-5 seconds you wouldn’t- but that’s essentially what you’re doing when texting. I hope these larger fines will help deter people.

    BUT- I think if you are caught texting or talking on the phone w/children in the car the penalties should be even higher!

  7. once regulation start ….. it never ends. I do believe that if government wasnt spending itself broke, nobody would suggest $600 penalties….

  8. cell phone use while driving…is an For all those who think this problem applies specifically to lakewood i’m sure the public safety committee has determined that this issue affects most cities if not all before enacting this bill…..Frankly I am getting tired of hearing all the driving complaints against “this town” and the people referenced in it. I personally have been at the receiving end of some pretty scary road rage (for driving too carefully?) and the drivers were not those people who are”taking over and controlling this town”. Reckless drivers exist EVERYWHERE

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