It’s becoming harder and harder for drivers who want to text or talk on their cell phone to engage in that practice and not put themselves at risk of incurring a substantial financial penalty.
New Jersey already has laws on the books banning any cell phone usage while behind the wheel of a vehicle, putting it in the rarefied air of nine other states as well as Washington D.C. But their law may soon be getting a lot stricter. This morning, the State Senate’s Law and Public Safety Committee voted unanimously to increase the fines that violators can expect to pay if they get caught breaking that cell phone law. The 5-0 vote sends the bill to the Senate itself, and awaits an upcoming vote.
Currently, New Jersey tags drivers caught using their cell phones with a $100 fine. That’s if it’s a driver’s first offense. The new law would raise that first offense amount to $200, and it only gets steeper from there. People caught breaking the law a second time would owe $400, while a third strike brings a whopping $600 fine. That third offense would also bring a potential three month license suspension and points on a driver’s record.
The bill’s sponsor likened new efforts to campaigns that aim to squash drunk driving. Officials hope to use the fines in order to fund a public education program.