Did you know that it’s illegal to use a cell phone while driving in New Jersey? This includes both texting and talking on a handheld device. If you are using Bluetooth or another hands-free device, you can still make calls while operating a motor vehicle. The goal of these laws is to keep drivers, passengers, and everyone else on the road safe. Cell phone use while driving falls under the distracted driving category and is responsible for thousands of accidents, injuries, and sometimes even deaths on the road.
If you are pulled over for cell phone use while driving, you can be sure that you will receive a ticket and a fine. However, if it’s a subsequent offense, you receive motor vehicle penalty points and run the risk of license suspension. If you got a cell phone ticket and wish to fight it in court, the best course of action is to contact a New Jersey attorney like Leon Matchin. Leon has worked on many distracted driving cases over the years and has several success stories of having charges dropped or downgraded in court. Take a minute to learn more about cell phone and driving laws in New Jersey and how you can fight a ticket.
Distracted driving includes a variety of different activities, but texting is perhaps the most alarming. Texting is an activity that requires visual, mental, and physical attention focused on the phone instead of the road. The New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety also considers the following distracted driving tasks:
- Talking on a cell phone without hands-free technology
- Eating or drinking
- Looking at maps
- Using a GPS navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting the radio or MP3 player
The reason New Jersey and many other states have created strict laws regarding distracted driving is because the stats surrounding this type of driving are staggering. For example, according to NJ.gov, distracted driving in New Jersey caused almost 800,000 crashes. In addition, sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for almost 5 seconds. If they are driving 55 mph while doing this, that equates to driving the entire length of a football field blind. Worst of all, between 2012 and 2017, almost 20,000 people in the US died in a distracted driving crash. The best way to keep yourself and others safe is to keep the phone out of arm’s reach while driving. If not, you risk the lives of anyone on the road and also will potentially receive a ticket.
Cell Phone Use and Driving Consequences
Using a cell phone without hands-free technology is grounds for getting a ticket. Consequences all depend on whether it’s your first offense or a subsequent offense. Check out the different penalties:
- First offense: $200 minimum fine
- Second offense: $400 minimum fine
- Third offense: $600 minimum fine in addition to a possible 90-day license suspension and 3 motor vehicle penalty points. Keep in mind that motor vehicle points come with their own consequences, such as higher insurance premiums and driver improvement courses.
As with most laws, the more you break them, the worse the penalties get. Take the time to contact an attorney to see if it’s possible to have your ticket dropped whether it’s your first, second, or third.
Potential Defenses for a Cell Phone Ticket
There is one time handheld cell phone use is allowed: in case of an emergency. If you are having an emergency or witness an emergency on the road, you can pick up your phone and call 911. A 911 call is easy to prove in court and can serve as a defense. Another defense often used in court is blaming the cell phone use on someone else in the car who wasn’t driving. For example, maybe your passenger is resting on the center console and texting. It’s dark out so an officer pulls you over assuming you are using your phone while driving. An experienced attorney will work to put doubt in the judge’s mind about who in the car was actually using the phone and if there is enough evidence to give the driver a ticket.
Working with a New Jersey Attorney on a Cell Phone Ticket Defense
The best way to have your distracted driving ticket dropped or downgraded is to work with an experienced New Jersey attorney. An attorney like Leon Matchin is well versed in distracted driving laws and how to successfully defend his clients in court. If you have received a distracted driving ticket due to cell phone use, call Leon right away. Provide him with all the details and evidence and he will help you form a case.
Distracted driving has become a more significant issue in recent years as cell phone use becomes increasingly prevalent. Prior to the early 2000s, distracted driving was limited to things like messing with the radio, eating, or looking at a map. Today, most distracted driving tickets are given due to handheld cell phone use. Texting and talking on a handheld cell phone are illegal while driving. You must have hands-free technology to be able to talk on your phone while driving.
Fighting a Cell Phone Ticket
The consequences of distracted driving are heavy. Many people are injured and killed each year due to distracted driving accidents. If you are found using a handheld cell phone while driving, you will get a ticket. This ticket comes with a fine and can even lead to license suspension or motor vehicle points, depending on whether the ticket is a subsequent offense. Working with a New Jersey attorney is the best way to get your ticket dropped or the charge downgraded to something lesser.
For more information about distracted driving violations and cell phone tickets, reach out to Leon Matchin. Contact Leon by phone at 732-887-2479, or email him at [email protected]. He will set up a free, no-obligation consultation to review your case and go over your options.