Quijano Warns Drivers of Stiffer Penalties Going into Effect Today for Texting or Talking on a Cell While Driving

As the lead Assembly sponsor of a new law that goes into effect today cracking down on the dangerous use of cell phones while driving, Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union) would like to remind motorists in New Jersey to be aware of the stiffer penalties now in place.

“This law wasn’t designed to be punitive, but rather to serve as a wake-up call. We’ve seen far too many senseless deaths and injuries at the hands of drivers who have been distracted by cell phones.

“Studies show that texting while driving may be even more dangerous than drunk driving. Most of us know this but choose to ignore it because we think it’ll never happen to us.

“The stiffer penalties that go into effect today for driving while texting or talking on a hand-held device are meant to send a message: It can happen to you. If you’re getting a ticket, take it as a learning experience and consider yourself lucky because there are far worse alternatives,” said Quijano.

Under previous law, the fine for using a hand-held electronic device while driving was $100. Under the new law that goes into effect today, the fines increase to:

– a minimum of $200 and a maximum of $400 for a first offense;

– a minimum of $400 and a maximum of $600 for a second offense; and

– a minimum of $600 and a maximum of $800 for third or subsequent offenses.

The law also permits the court at its discretion to impose a 90-day driver’s license suspension for anyone convicted of the offense for a third or subsequent time. In addition, third and subsequent offenders will receive three motor vehicle penalty points.