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New Distracted Driving Penalties In Place

New Jersey law prohibits the use of handheld cellular phones while driving. Anyone caught talking or texting on a handheld cell phone while driving faces a fine. As of this month, the fines issued for this form of distracted driving have a little more bite to them. A first time offense of handheld cell phone use behind the wheel will net a fine between $200 and $400. Second-time offenders can be fined $400 to $600. Every offense beyond the second can be penalized with a $600 to $800 fine, as well as suspension of your driver's license for 90 days and three points off your license. It remains to be seen whether the increase in fines will encourage greater enforcement of the distracted driving law.

Cell phones and other electronic devices take a driver's attention away from the important work of driving safely. The law against handheld cell phone use, while imperfect, does target a dangerous behavior. The momentary inattention of a driver can have tragic, even fatal consequences. Even if you were capable of operating your cell phone without taking your eyes off the wheel, you cannot do so without taking your attention off of safe driving. The increase in distracted driving accidents can be traced to the rise in popularity of smart phones. Whether they are effective or not, the heavier fines will hopefully convince people that it isn't worth the risk to use the phone while driving.

A distracted driver is a danger to everyone on the road. Families are torn apart every day by accidents that could have been avoided with a little care. Driving and cell phones do not mix.

Source: Philly.com, "N.J. raises fines for distracted driving," 1 July 2014

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