New Jersey’s Cellphone-Use & Texting-While-Driving Laws

Read about New Jersey’s distracted driving laws and the costs of a texting or cellphone ticket.

New Jersey’s distracted driving laws generally prohibit all motorists from talking on a handheld cellphone or text messaging while driving. This article discusses the specifics of what the laws prohibit and the costs and other consequences of a texting or cellphone violation.

Talking on the Phone and Texting

New Jersey’s distracted driving laws are fairly straightforward: It’s generally illegal for all drivers to talk on a cellphone or text message while driving unless the phone or device is in hands-free mode. And even when a device is used in hands-free mode, its placement can’t interfere with the operation of federally required safety equipment, and the driver must exercise a high degree of caution for the use to be lawful.

Exceptions. New Jersey’s texting and cellphone ban has a few exceptions. A driver is permitted to use one hand to make a call if the driver:

  • has reason to fear for his life or safety or believes that a crime may be perpetrated against a person, or
  • makes a call to report some sort of emergency, including an unsafe or intoxicated driver.

Fines, points, and license suspension. The fines for distracted driving violations are $200 to $400 for a first offense, $400 to $600 for a second violation, and $600 to $800 for a third or subsequent violation. For a third or subsequent violation, three points will be assessed to the person’s driving record, and the judge has the option of suspending the person’s license for up to 90 days. (Only violations that occurred within ten years of the most current offense are counted.)

Public Transportation Drivers

Public transportation drivers are also prohibited from talking on the phone and text messaging while driving. However, the restriction applies to handheld and hands-free device use alike.

Exceptions. The public transportation texting and cellphone ban doesn’t apply:

  • in the event of an emergency
  • when radio communication failures occur, or
  • when the wireless device is used in hands-free mode while operating paratransit service and radio communication is not available.

Penalties. A public transportation cellphone or texting violation is a disorderly persons offense. Convicted drivers face up to six months in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine.

Other Possible Charges

Depending on the circumstances, a texting or cellphone violation could also lead to a reckless driving conviction. And if one of these violations results in the death of another person, vehicular homicide charges are a possibility.

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