In this day and age, cell phone use is common. However, in the state of New Jersey, there are limits on when drivers can use a cell phone. New Jersey Statute 39: 4-97.3 is New Jersey’s cell phone and driving law. It states cell phone use is illegal unless the phone is “a hands-free wireless telephone or the electronic communication device is used hands free.” Additionally, the placement of the phone or device cannot interfere with safety equipment. Further, users are required by law to exercise “a high degree of caution in the operation of the motor vehicle.”
There are two exceptions to this rule. The first is where the driver fears for his or her life or safety, or believes they, or another, may be the subject of a criminal act. Second, a driver may use a hand operated cell phone in one hand while driving with the other hand to report the following circumstances to authorities:
- A traffic accident;
- A serious road hazard;
- Medical emergencies;
- Hazardous materials emergencies;
- To report another driver’s reckless, careless, or otherwise unsafe driving; or
- Appears to be driving under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.
Cell Phone and Driving Consequences in NJ
Drivers who violate New Jersey’s prohibitions on hand held cell phone laws face fines as follows:
- First offense, a fine of at least $200 and as much as $400;
- Second offense, a fine of at least $400 and as much as $600; and
- Third and subsequent offenses, a fine of at least $600 and as much as $800.
Additionally, repeat offenders may lose their driving privileges for 90 days. Finally, for a third or subsequent offense, drivers will be assessed three motor vehicle penalty points.
Cell Phone Use and Distracted Driving
Using a cell phone can lead to distracted driving. This is why the law in New Jersey doesn’t simply permit hands free cell phone use. Drivers must also exercise a high degree of caution when driving and talking on the phone.
In the state of New Jersey alone, distracted driving has been a contributing factor in 817,000 car crashes between 2010 and 2014. Additional causes of distracted driving include:
- Eating while driving;
- Drinking any beverage while driving;
- Talking to passengers in the car;
- Applying makeup, shaving, and other grooming activities;
- Reading – including reading maps;
- Watching a video;
- Adjusting the radio, CD player, or online music station; and
- Using a navigation system.
Cell Phone Use and Texting
Texting is, of course, illegal while driving in the state of New Jersey. Texting is particularly dangerous, because of the trifecta of driving distractions:
- Visual distraction, in that you must take your eyes off the road to read or send texts;
- Manual distraction, in that you must generally take one hand off the wheel to text; and
- Cognitive distraction, as texting – either reading or sending a text, takes your mind off the road and your driving.
Any one of these three types of distractions can lead to a car crash causing injury or even death.
If You or a Loved One is the Victim of a Distracted Driver
If you or a loved one is the victim of a distracted driver, you have rights. Texting and talking on a hand-held device is illegal in New Jersey, except in rare circumstances. This law was put in place to keep people safe. Those who ignore the law should face consequences. The auto accident attorneys at Rosner Law Offices, P.C., P. C. are well versed in the law. Contact us for a complimentary consultation at (856) 692-6500. Let us put our experience to work for you.