Recently, police have been out in full force issuing cell phone tickets throughout New Jersey to thousands of unsuspecting drivers.
Since distracted driving has become a hot button issue over the years, officers are specifically on the lookout for motorists with cell phones in their hands, up to their ears, and even on the passenger seat.
Also, as of July 1, 2014, New Jersey heavily increased the penalties for cell phone tickets.
Consequently, if you received a NJ cell phone ticket, be smart––contact an experienced traffic ticket attorney to help you fight it.
Cell Phone Ticket Basics
New Jersey’s cell phone law (NJSA 39:4-97.3) is quite wide-ranging. It prohibits the “use” of a cell phone while driving.
“Use” has been defined as being engaged in a call; talking on the phone; listening to a person, voicemail, or other recording; texting; e-mailing; surfing the web; and similar types of behavior that could distract a driver.
Depending on the circumstances, simply selecting a song on your iPhone could potentially be grounds for the issuance of a cell phone ticket in NJ.
Penalties for a NJ Cell Phone Ticket
If it is your first time being convicted of distracted driving in NJ, you will be forced to pay a $200 minimum fine ($400 max. fine).
For a second offense, the minimum fine doubles to $400 ($600 max. fine).
A third cell phone ticket conviction will result in:
- 90-Day License Suspension
- 3 Points
- Minimum $600 Fine ($800 max. fine)
Additionally, your auto insurance carrier will usually label you as a “careless driving” or “distracted driver” and dramatically increase your premium even for the first offense.
Depending on who your insurance carrier is, your NJ auto insurance hike could be close to 55%.
How to Beat a Cell Phone Ticket in NJ (Exceptions and Common Defenses)
Hiring a NJ traffic ticket attorney gives you the best chance of successfully fighting your cell phone ticket and avoiding the short-term and long-term sting of a conviction.
A skilled attorney will know what defenses are most applicable for your unique case and will be able to raise them at the appropriate time.
It is important to note that the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission carved out two important exceptions to NJ’s cell phone law.
First, according to the NJ MVC, “Although it is discouraged, drivers may use a hands-free device if it does not interfere with standard safety equipment.” This includes using Bluetooth as well as speaker-phone when the phone is not being held in your hand.
Second, “a hand-held phone may be used for an emergency only and the driver must keep one hand on the wheel at all times.”
However, an emergency––as defined for this purpose––is usually something that is a matter of life and death.
Moreover, it is crucial to know what type of “use” the officer is alleging that you were engaged in.
If he or she claims you were on the phone and you were not, getting a copy of your cell phone bill will be crucial evidence for your defense.
If the officer claims you were texting while driving or surfing the web while driving, calling into question his ability to see into your car will obviously be an integral part of your defense.
Ultimately, winning your cell phone case and getting the best results hinges on your attorney’s ability to use the right evidence and legal strategies unique to your case.
Who Should You Contact?
If you recently received a cell phone ticket in New Jersey (NJSA 39:4-97.3), contact Michael Botton of The Botton Law Firm today at 732-894-3686. His team of NJ traffic ticket attorneys have years of experience fighting traffic tickets, negotiating with prosecutors, and reducing traffic violations.