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Consequences of using cell phone while driving in New Jersey

Many residents of Bergen County would never get behind the wheel of a car after having a drink or two because they realize the consequences of drunken driving. Yet, most of those same people wouldn’t give a second thought to answering a phone call or sending a quick text message while driving. A law that was recently signed by Gov. Christie aims to reduce the number of people who us hand-held cell phones while driving, as well as the number of accidents caused by cell phone distractions.

Law enforcement officials may issue a moving violation citation to drivers who are using a hand-held cell phone without violating any other traffic laws; the use of hands-free devices is permitted. First-time offenders will be subject to a fine ranging from $200 to $400. The penalties increase with each additional offense that occurs within a span of 10 years: $400 to $600 for second-time offenders and $600 to $800 for third-time offenders. Furthermore, repeat offenders who receive multiple traffic tickets for cell phone use could have their license suspended for 90 days.

While being cited for violations of the new cell phone laws might seem minor, the consequences may have more impact than you think. In addition to monetary fines, your auto insurance premium may increase and points may be added to your driving record. You could also face criminal charges if you cause an accident while texting and driving. An attorney can help minimize many of the long-term consequences associated with cell phone citations.

Source: NJ1015.com, “New Jersey’s New Texting And Cell Phone Law,” Jim Gearhart Show, August 14, 2013.

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