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Albert Buzzetti & Associates, L.L.C.

Tougher Penalties may be Coming for Distracted Drivers in New Jersey

New Jersey drivers who violate the state's law allowing the use of only hands-free devices may face stiffer punishment down the road. Senator Richard Codey's legislation which would increase the penalties for repeat offenders recently passed the Senate committee.

Currently a violation carries a $100 fine for first and subsequent offenses. If passed, the new law would have a graduated penalty structure for offenders who violate the law more than once in a 10-year period. First-time offenders would receive a fine of $200. A second offense within 10 years would carry a fine of $400. Drivers convicted of third and subsequent offenses would face a $600 fine and a 90-day driver's license suspension.

The tougher penalties are intended to make more people think twice before they break the law and become a danger to everyone on the road. Studies have shown that distracted driving actually impairs drivers' reaction times more than drunk driving.

Codey said that despite law enforcement writing almost 10,000 tickets per month for violations of the hands-free cell phone law, many drivers continue to engage in the hazardous behavior. A poll found that 80 percent of New Jersey drivers say they very often see others driving a car while holding a cell phone.

The hands-free bill was signed into law in 2007. It appears to have had a positive impact. Cell phone related traffic accidents decreased by more than 10 percent between 2006 and 2008. During that same time period, however, there were still over 5,000 accidents involving hand-held cell phones resulting in 16 deaths. If passed, hopefully the new law will make New Jersey's roads safer for everyone.

If you have been injured by a distracted driver, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. An attorney can advocate on your behalf to ensure those responsible for your suffering are held accountable.

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