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Using a Cell Phone While Driving Could Cost You More [AUDIO]

The penalties could soon increase for those who text or talk on a hand-held cell phone while driving, if members of the New Jersey Senate get their way.

Driver on Cell Phone
Flickr User Stefan Kloo

Under current law, the fine is $100 for a first offense. A measure approved Monday by the full Senate would double the fine to $200. A $400 fine would be issued for a second offense within ten years. Drivers with a third or subsequent offense within ten years would see a $600 fine, and the court would be permitted to impose a 90-day driver’s license suspension. Also, third and subsequent offenders would receive three motor vehicle penalty points.

State Senator and former governor Dick Codey, a sponsor of the measure, said $100 isn’t enough to keep people off their phones while driving.

“These are the new drunk drivers. They’re not drunk, but they’re more dangerous,” Codey said. “We know they’ve killed people. They’ve injured people, including themselves.”

Codey said the current fine is a slap on the wrist, and his proposal would be a “slap in the face.”

All fines collected would be used for a public education program, under the Motor Vehicle Commission, which focuses on cell phone-use behind the wheel.

If the Assembly and the Governor approve the measure, according to Codey, New Jersey would become the strongest and strictest state against drivers who violate cell phone laws.

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