Do New Jersey lawmakers have their sights set on your morning coffee? In an effort to stop distracted driving, legislators have proposed a law banning anything that may take your hands off the steering wheel. When news of the bill dropped in early August, many thought it would make it illegal to eat or drink while driving.
New Jersey’s existing distracted driving laws only cover use of a cell phone, which includes talking without a hands-free device and texting. The new bill, A-1908, is much broader, barring “any activity unrelated to the actual operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of the vehicle.” This leaves the law very open to interpretation, but the bill’s sponsor, Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski, said he did not intend it to pertain to food or drink. He told the Associated Press that he can’t imagine an officer pulling anyone over for drinking coffee. The broad language, he said, was to avoid having to author new legislation every time technology changes.
The proposed law also increases fines for distracted driving from just $100 to between $200 and $400 for a first offense, $400 to $600 for a second offense, and $600 to $800 for a third and subsequent offenses. Multiple violations may also result in points and/or a suspended license for up to 90 days.
The bill is modeled after similar laws in Maine. It was introduced early this year and is not yet scheduled for a vote. It is currently in committee with Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee.
It is essential that you retain an attorney if you or someone you love has been ticketed for distracted driving. The attorneys at the Rosenblum Law Firm are experienced criminal defense and traffic ticket attorney with offices in New York and New Jersey. Email them or call 888-203-2619 for a free consultation about your case.