What Is Considered Texting and Driving in New Jersey?
In today’s world, a person rarely leaves home without their cell phone. It allows us the ability to communicate at any time and any place with family, friends, coworkers, clients and more. However, this ubiquitous device also can be a deadly distraction while on the road. Texting or talking on cell phones while driving has become an increasing cause of human choice accidents and distraction related crashes are a leading cause of fatalities, behind only driving under the influence of alcohol. In fact, studies show that texting and driving is a similar level of impairment as driving while at the legal blood-alcohol limit.
Given the high level of accidents and fatalities caused by texting and driving, laws have come into place in order to punish those who choose to drive while distracted. In New Jersey, this law is N.J.S.A. 39:4-97.3. This statute outlaws the use of a wireless or electronic communication device by an operator of a moving vehicle unless it is one of the following:
- The device is hands-free and does not interfere with safety equipment. The driver must also exercise a high degree of caution.
- You can sometimes argue a texting and driving ticket if you can prove you were only picking it up to plug it into a Bluetooth or other hands-free device.
- The device is a citizen’s band radio or two-way radio in use by the driver of a commercial motor vehicle or an authorized emergency vehicle.
Additionally, there are certain circumstances where texting or talking while driving with one hand on the wheel is allowed.
- The operator of the vehicle fears for their safety or believes a criminal act may be perpetrated against themselves or another person.
- The operator is reporting a fire, traffic accident, serious road hazard, or medical or hazardous materials emergency.
- The operator is reporting another driver who is driving recklessly or in an otherwise unsafe manner or appears to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If none of these apply, then texting and driving can incur harsh penalties.
Penalties for Texting and Driving
New Jersey’s cell phone laws are considered “primary” laws. This means that the officer does not need to witness any other violation in order to pull you over for texting and driving. The penalties are as follows:
- First Offense – Texting and Driving
- Fines of between $200 and $400
- Second Offense – Texting and Driving
- Fines of between $400 and $600
- Third and Subsequent Offenses – Texting and Driving
- Fines of between $600 and $800
- Three (3) motor vehicle penalty points on your license
- 90 day license suspension
- Learn about license restoration in New Jersey
This does not include court costs and fees. Also note that a texting and driving offense that occurs 10 or more years after a prior conviction will not be considered a subsequent offense. So if you were caught texting and driving and then 10 years later you got charged again, you would only incur first offense penalties.
We Are Here to Help
Facing down a texting and driving charge and don’t know what to do? Then make sure to talk to the lawyers at Schneider Freiberger so you know your options. Make sure your case is in good hands. We are experienced with texting and driving cases and know the best ways to fight the charges.