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What are the penalties in NJ for using a cell phone while driving?

New Jersey has been concerned for years with distracted driving, so you can be pulled over and ticketed for using a hand-held phone while driving.  “Use” is considered to be talking or listening on the phone, texting, or e-mailing.

The penalty increases with each offense.

  • First offense: $200 to $400
  • Second offense: $400 to $600
  • Third and subsequent violations: Up to $800, three points, and possible 90-day license suspension

It Gets Worse If There is an Accident

The consequences are even more serious if there is an accident that arises out of your use of that cell phone. If someone is injured or killed, then you could be charged with an indictable crime (New Jersey's version of a felony), and you are much deeper trouble.

If there is injury, then you would be charged with assault by auto. Serious injuries would result in penalties including up to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.  Lesser injuries would be up to six (6) months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

In the case of death, you could be charged with vehicular homicide, which carries 5 to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $150,000.

There Are Defenses

Hands-free usage of a cell phone is acceptable, as long as:

  • “the [phone’s] placement does not interfere with the operation of federally required safety equipment” and
  • “the operator exercises a high degree of caution in the operation of the motor vehicle.”

Any distraction to driving should be avoided to prevent injury to yourself or others as a result of an accident.

So What Should I Do If I Get a Ticket?

If you have been charged with distracted driving in South Jersey, please feel free to call me at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site to schedule a free consultation in my Woodbury office.

If you are looking for more information on New Jersey's traffic laws, then download my free book, A Guide to Driving Legally in NJ, and Surviving Traffic Court If You Don't.

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Steven J. Richardson
Bankruptcy, Collections, Student Loan, DUI and Traffic Court attorney in Woodbury, NJ.