Law Office of Steven J. Feldman
Certified Criminal Defense Attorney

Could you be criminally charged for driving and texting?

New Jersey has some of the strictest cell phone laws in the United States. The Office of the Attorney General cites distracted driving due to cell phone use in more than 817,000 motor vehicle crashes in a four-year period from 2010 to 2014. It is important for all drivers to know the law and understand the penalties for violating the law.

Distracted driving laws in New Jersey

Texting while driving is not allowed for any driver, no matter how experienced. Novice drivers are not allowed to use cell phones, even with a hands-free device, but experienced drivers can use a hands-free cell phone while driving. Bus drivers are also prohibited from handheld cell phones when they are behind the wheel. It is important to note that under the new laws, you can also be ticketed if you look at your cell phone when you are at a stoplight.

Cellphone and texting laws in New Jersey are primary laws. An officer can pull you over without witnessing another violation of the law. If you are seen texting or using a handheld unit behind the wheel, you can be cited. Fines are extremely high in new Jersey. For the first offense, you could receive a fine of $200 to $400. The second offense has a fine of $400 to $600. The third offense increases fines by $200 and could include a 90-day license suspension, plus motor vehicle points. Second and third offenses only accrue within 10 years of the first offense. However, once it is on your motor vehicle abstract, it cannot be removed.

Potential charges of vehicular homicide

Under the New Jersey law, a driver who is violating the hands-free cell phone law and involved in an accident could face harsh penalties if there is a death in the other vehicle. The violation of the law could give rise to operating recklessly charges, which then could lead to vehicular homicide charges. Although this law has not been tested in the courts, the courts are handing down criminal charges for violating cellphone laws.

Employers may look more harshly at drivers who have a ticket on their license for violating cellphone laws. It used to be that a person would just pay the fine and not do it again, but under the new rules, it might be beneficial to try and fight the ticket. Your attorney can assist you in building a case to present to the court. The best idea to avoid getting ticketed is to not use your cellphone when you are driving.

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