Senate President Applauds Both Houses for Approving Motorist Cell Phone Ban
TRENTON – The New Jersey Legislature today sent a clear message to drivers that distractions will not be tolerated by passing a sweeping ban on the use of hand-held electronic devices while driving. Bill S1099, sponsored by Senate President Richard J. Codey, not only would ban the use of hand held devices such as cell phones and blackberries, it would also expressly prohibit text messaging while driving.
“When people are driving while using their cell phones they have a harder time checking their blind spots, usually don’t use their blinkers and are generally less aware of what’s going on around them. A cell phone is not a license to be careless,” said Sen. Codey. “We survived for nearly a century driving without cell phones, there’s no reason why all of the sudden they should be imperative. If the phone call is that important, people should make it a point to use a wireless device to free up their hands and minimize distractions.”
The Codey-backed measure was amended in the Assembly last week to make both talking on a hand-held device and text messaging a primary offense. Both houses gave their final approval to the measure today with the Senate approving the ban by a vote of 35 to 1. Current state law makes talking on a cell phone simply a secondary offense, meaning a driver must be caught committing a first offense in order for a law enforcement officer to cite them for use of a cell phone. The bill does carve out exceptions, however, for emergencies such as an accident, reporting dangerous driving habits, or if a driver fears that they may be in imminent danger. Drivers caught violating the law, which will go into effect 90 days after being signed by the Governor, will face a penalty of $100.