Talking and texting on cell phones is one of the major causes of distracted driving. Many states, including New Jersey, have made it illegal for drivers to use a cell phone without hands-free technology. If an officer sees you holding your cell phone while driving, they have the right to pull you over. Violating this law leads to fines, but if you have multiple subsequent offenses, you might get points on your driving record and potentially even a license suspension. As with most laws, there are some exceptions, and it is possible to successfully fight your cell phone ticket. The best course of action is to contact a lawyer familiar with cell phone violations in NJ, like Leon Matchin. He can take a look at your case and develop a defense to hopefully have your ticket dropped.
What is Considered Distracted Driving?
Using a cell phone without hands-free technology falls under the category of distracted driving. According to the State of New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety, here are some other driving distractions: “using a navigation system, tending to children and pets, eating and drinking, and adjusting the radio.” Distracted driving doesn’t just put the driver at risk; it puts everyone in the car, and everyone in the cars around you, at risk. Distracted driving leads to many car accidents, injuries, and sometimes even death.
Dangers of Cell Phone Use While Driving
The Department of Law & Public Safety emphasizes the danger of distracted driving with the statistic that between 2012 and 2016, nearly 800,000 crashes in New Jersey were due to distracted driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) studies distracted driving throughout the entire United States. In 2019 alone, 3,142 lives were lost to distracted driving. Many distracted driving incidents involved cell phones.
The NHTSA offers the following staggering comparison to show just how dangerous distracted driving can be: “Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.” Spending 5 seconds reading a text message might not seem like much time, but when traveling at high speeds you can cover a lot of ground, putting yourself and other drivers at risk.
Cell Phone Violations in NJ
N.J.S.A 39:4-97.3 states that if you are operating a motor vehicle, you cannot use a cell phone unless you are using it as a hands-free device (i.e., Bluetooth). This means that while you are driving, you cannot hold the phone up to your ear, text, check email, scroll through TikTok, etc. If you are pulled over for breaking this law, there are consequences that depend on whether you are a first-time offender or have subsequent violations:
- First Offense: Fine between $200 and $400
- Second Offense: Fine between $400 and $600
- Third or Subsequent Offense: Fine between $600 and $800, potential 90-day license suspension, points on driving record.
These fines can get expensive! Also, distracted driving charges can increase your insurance premiums.
Potential Cell Phone Violation Defenses in Court
While non-hands-free cell phone use is prohibited while driving 99% of the time, there are some special situations. These are exceptions to the rule. For instance, if the driver believes they are in danger, they can use their phone to call for help. They can also use their phone if they believe a criminal act might be committed against them or another person.
Another scenario where non-hands-free cell phone use is acceptable is for reporting things like a severe accident. Also, reporting a hazardous material emergency, fire, or another driver who is being reckless and endangering others. Using your phone in whatever way possible is necessary in any of these situations.
Contact an Attorney to Fight a Cell Phone Violation Charge
As mentioned above, there are exceptions to New Jersey’s laws about cell phone use while driving. If you have been charged with distracted driving due to cell phone use and believe you had the right to be on your phone, contact an experienced attorney like Leon Matchin. In these types of cases, phone records and a written statement from the emergency personnel who received your call are often all that is needed to have charges dropped in court. Leon will help you acquire the necessary documents and evidence and will create a case based on your unique situation. It’s always best to involve an attorney when fighting a ticket. Attorneys like Leon Matchin has created many defenses to have distracted driving charges dropped.
Help with a Cell Phone Violation Charge
Distracted driving causes many accidents and deaths across the United States each year. That’s why many states, including New Jersey, have made it illegal to use a cell phone without hands-free technology while driving. If you are pulled over for holding your cell phone to talk, texting on your phone, or using it in any other way while driving, you can expect to receive a ticket. Cell phone tickets aren’t cheap! Fines can be anywhere from $200 to $800, depending on whether it’s a first or subsequent offense. Subsequent offenses come with even more severe consequences, like potential license suspension or points on your driving record. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can fight your cell phone ticket and potentially have it dropped.
For more information about distracted driving and cell phone violations in NJ, 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.