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Home » Personal Injury » New Jersey’s Vague War Against Distracted Driving

New Jersey’s Vague War Against Distracted Driving

a roadsign reads "no coffee while driving"Every state does things a little differently. That’s the whole point. Take speed limits for example — some states have a much higher maximum speed limit for interstate travel, particularly those in the westward direction where the roads are straight and flat.

Another example of driving-related law differences between states would be pumping gas. In most places across the U.S., drivers are free to pump their own gas. So it’s weird when residents of those states travel to places like New Jersey, where it’s illegal to pump your own gas. You can decide for yourself if that restriction makes sense or not.

The point is, the United States of America is an eclectic nation, legislation-wise. And New Jersey has a new, arguably even weirder driving law: no drinking — ANYTHING — while driving. For many people, especially coffee drinkers, this is upsetting news.

New Jersey v. Distracted Driving

It’s already illegal to talk on the phone while driving in New Jersey (unless you have a hands-free earpiece) and now stressed people statewide are getting more stressed out about their capacity to multitask as much as they need to. Coffee, as previously mentioned, is a top concern.

This proposed bill comes as the latest attempt by the New Jersey government to combat the practice of distracted driving. To be fair, their fight is somewhat noble. Countless people die in car accidents every year and distracted driving is responsible for thousands of those crashes.

At the same time, it’s probably not a good idea to assume that our subjective definitions of “distracted driving” are the same as the New Jersey government’s. The closing statement in the prospective law lays down the state’s perspective pretty clearly:

“The bill specifically prohibits a driver from engaging in any activity, not related to the operation of the vehicle, in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of the vehicle.”

While this is all well and good, one has to admit that some loosey-goosey interpretations could be reasonably made. What about changing the radio station? What about, you know, talking to the people in your freaking car? What will become of the Starbucks drive-thru? Are the cops going to start pulling people over if their mouths are open?

Probably not — but the statement does go on to talk more about what drivers can’t do with cell phones:

“This bill also strengthens the existing law prohibiting the use of a cellphone while operating a motor vehicle by establishing a presumptive interference that a person holding a cellphone near the ear has committed a violation of that law.”

Maybe this is scary, maybe it isn’t. It depends on the cop. If a cop sees someone scratching their ear and mistakes that for holding up a cellphone, things could get pretty… unjust. After all, look what happened when police officers used their discretion and wound up forcing some guy to pay $2,500 for possessing donut glaze that supposedly looked like crystal meth.

Distracted drivers are going to pay:

Explicitly. With dollars. First-time offenders of this new distracted driving bill would have to cough up $200 to $400 if a police officer thinks they look distracted. Double offenders would pay $400 to $600 and triple offenders would fork over a now-predictable $600 to $800. Third-time offenders also would have their drivers licenses suspended for ninety days.

If this all sounds kind of vague and steep to you, that’s your opinion. It definitely seems vague and steep. And again, there’s no guarantee that the law will pass anyways — although based on New Jersey’s track record with this kind of thing, nobody should be surprised if it does. Residents of the Garden State might wind up having to chug their coffees before they hit the road.

At Turner Law Offices, P.C., our team of attorneys has years of experience working with clients across a wide range of cases, including those involving traffic violations. If you’ve been wrongfully accused of committing an offense while driving, it could be possible for you to receive damages. The first step is always to hire legal representation you can trust, so don’t wait! Call today, or go online to set up your free initial consultation, and meet with a lawyer who’s ready and waiting to guide you toward the justice you deserve.

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