Some associate April with spring showers. However, if you’re a driver in New Jersey, the beginning of the new month means something else. It represents the start of a statewide campaign focused on distracted driving.
One news report describes it as a texting-while-driving ticket blitz. Truth be told, over 200 police departments received additional funding as further incentive to pull over distracted drivers. In Union County alone, the government presented these municipalities with grants:
• Berkeley Heights
No doubt the point of the distracted driving campaign focuses on safety concerns. However, be forewarned. Texting while you’re behind the wheel represents only one reason the police issue tickets citing NJSA 39:4-97.3.
Motor vehicle manufacturers have attempted to address society’s obsession with staying in touch. The same is true for cellphone companies. For some, Apple CarPlay allows drivers to dictate their text messages instead of pounding away on their iPhones. Those with Android telephones use AndroidAuto for the same reason.
If texting proves essential, either of these services using Bluetooth may work for you. A major concern regards keeping your hands on the wheel.
However, once again, it’s not just about texting or even talking on a handheld device that can get you a ticket for distracted driving. Do you use your cellphone as a GPS or navigation device? You may want to reconsider looking at your calendar or email while you’re driving as well.
Distracted Driving: Beyond Texting
Although cellphone use accounts for a great many distracted driving tickets, the police may issue you a citation for other activities as well. According to the State’s Division of Motor Vehicle, these include:
• Eating and drinking
• Talking to passengers
• Reading, including maps
• Using a navigation system
• Watching a video
• Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
Meanwhile, there’s something that might surprise you. There are exceptions to the rule. As long as you keep one hand on the steering wheel, you may use a handheld device in select circumstances. These include the fear that your life or safety is in jeopardy. Additionally, you may use your phone to report emergency situations.
In case you wondered, you can also receive a ticket if you text or even look at your cellphone while you’re at a red light. And, the police do not need to find any other reason to pull you over than distracted driving.
Fighting Distracted Driving Tickets
Distracted driving convictions come with an enormous expense. For a first offense, you face up to $400 in fines alone. Meanwhile, you could strike out after three charges and lose your license for 90 days. With a third offense, fines go up to $800.
All things considered, you may be able to fight charges concerning distracted driving. For example, you may be able to provide proof that you were not on the phone with documentation from your cell carrier. In any event, you should speak with an attorney with experience handling distracted driving tickets. Contact the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafajlo to see how we can help!