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Madden/Lesniak Legislation Making It Easier To Prosecute Those Recklessly Driving While Using Cell Phone Now Law

A view of the Senate Chambers from the 2010-2011 Senate Reorganization.

Law Honors Helen Kulesh, David & Linda Kubert, and Toni and Ryan Jeffery Bolis

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Fred Madden (D – Gloucester, Camden) and Raymond J. Lesniak (D – Union) that would provide prosecutors with an added tool for obtaining a conviction of vehicular homicide or assault by automobile against a person who is illegally using a cell phone while driving was signed into law today by Acting Governor Kim Guadagno.

“There is no question that illegally using a cell phone causes distractions for those out on the road,” said Madden. “Sometimes those distractions can have tragic results. That is why it is important that we send a message that such behavior must cease. This is about saving lives and protecting people.”

“When a driver makes the decision to ignore basic common sense and uses a cell phone while behind the wheel, if someone is hurt or killed as a result of that recklessness, there should be serious penalties,” said Lesniak. “This new law gives prosecutors the ability to leverage tougher penalties against drivers who violate the State’s hands-free cell phone law and cause an accident that injures or kills someone else. It’s the right thing to do, and it sends the message that New Jersey takes the threat of reckless driving very seriously.”

A person is guilty of death by auto or assault by auto when it is proven that he or she drove a motor vehicle recklessly. This law puts in state statute that the illegal use of a cell phone while driving may lead to the conclusion that the defendant was driving recklessly.

The bill is designated as “Kulesh, Kubert, and Bolis’ Law” after Helen Kulesh, who was tragically killed by a person who was using a cell phone while driving; David and Linda Kubert, who were both severely injured by a driver who was illegally using a cell phone; and Toni Bolis and her son Ryan Jeffery Bolis, who died in a motor vehicle accident that was allegedly caused by a person who was using a cell phone while driving.

The legislation was passed unanimously by both houses in June.

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