Texting and Driving Laws in New Jersey
Driving distracted is an epidemic in the US. In 2018 alone, distracted drivers took 2,841 lives (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). In the past seven years, 9% of all fatal accidents in the US involved distracted drivers. The number one type of driver distraction is texting and driving.
Is it Legal to Use Your Cell Phone While Driving in New Jersey?
It is not legal to use your cell phone while driving in New Jersey if you do so manually (using a handheld electronic device). Texting while driving is something lawmakers in New Jersey take seriously. The state’s Division of Highway Traffic Safety reports that nearly 800,000 car accidents in a four-year span involved distracted drivers. In an effort to prevent handheld cell phone use while driving, New Jersey bans all manual cell phone use with only a few exceptions:
- The driver fears for his or her life or safety and needs to make an emergency call.
- The driver believes a crime is being committed or perpetrated against a person.
- The driver needs to report an emergency, such as a suspected drunk driver or car accident.
Other than in these scenarios, a driver cannot lawfully use a handheld cell phone behind the wheel. The law applies to all forms of handheld cell phone use, including texting, emailing and making phone calls. A driver in New Jersey can, however, use a hands-free device while driving, such as a device that uses talk-to-text technology or Bluetooth.
Fines and License Points for Texting and Driving
The fines for texting and driving – or any form of handheld cell phone use in New Jersey – is $200 to $400 for a first offense, $400 to $600 for a second offense, and $600 to $800 for a third or any subsequent offenses. If the driver is operating a vehicle for public transportation, texting while driving is a disorderly persons crime, penalized by a maximum of $1,000 and up to six months in jail.
If a driver violates the texting and driving law three or more times, that driver will receive three points assessed to his or her driving record. If a driver accumulates too many points in a short period, he or she could face penalties such as the temporary suspension of the driving privilege. A driver will also face driver’s license suspension for up to 90 days with three or more texting and driving violations in New Jersey.
What If My Car Accident Was Caused By a Distracted Driver?
If you were in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, that driver may owe you financial compensation. Although New Jersey is a no-fault state, a distracted driver may be liable for your losses if your car accident meets the state’s serious injury threshold. Your crash may be severe enough to allow you to hold the other driver responsible with a car accident lawsuit if you have broken bones, significant scarring or disfigurement, or a permanent disability.
If your distracted driving accident was not serious enough, you will seek financial compensation from your own auto insurance provider, regardless of fault. This is how New Jersey’s no-fault insurance system works. If you can hold another driver responsible, however, it will be up to you or your Bergen County car accident lawyer to prove that the other driver was distracted and that this caused the crash.
Proving distracted driving takes a preponderance of the evidence – enough evidence to persuade a judge and jury that the driver more likely than not caused the car accident. Evidence of distracted driving may include a police report, a ticket against the other driver for a texting and driving violation, and the driver’s cell phone records.
An attorney can help you collect and present evidence against the distracted driver to collect fair financial compensation. If the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance or commits a hit-and-run crime, you can turn to your own insurance company for coverage instead. For more information about distracted driving accidents, contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Hasson, P.C.