A countywide crack-down on texting and driving hopes to raise awareness about the consequences of being distracted behind the wheel.

(StarsStudio, ThinkStock)
(StarsStudio, ThinkStock)

Running throughout the month of October, the "Unplugged and Alive in Monmouth County" campaign was launched by Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office, Monmouth County Association of Chiefs of Police and the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders on Tuesday.

The campaign gives motorists who are caught texting or talking behind the wheel a chance to avoid hefty fines if they pledge not to do it again.

All of the county police departments as well as the sheriff's office will carry distracted driver ticket books. Anyone found to be driving distracted will be issued a warning ticket. However, it comes with some stipulations.

"That warning gives the driver 15 days to log on to unpluggedandalive.com, and drive responsibly, not drive distracted, and it forces them to watch a video called 'The Last Text' which, in very graphic terms, lays out the horrible consequences of distracted driving," said Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Lori Linskey.

If the offender fails to log on and take the pledge within 15 days, a summons will be mailed to them.

The initiative piggybacks off a recent increase to fines for distracted driving. The penalty for a first offense is between $200 and $400 dollars, while a second offense is between $400 and $600, and a third offense fine can go up to $800 and carry the possibility of a loss of license.

Linskey said the program is modeled after a similar initiative done in Somerset County last year. She is hoping for similar success.

"My understanding is out of hundreds and hundreds of warning tickets issued, they had very very few people who did not comply and log onto the website and take the pledge not to drive distracted and watch video," Linskey said.

The Monmouth Prosecutor's Office says you don't have to have be issued a warning ticket to watch the video and take the pledge, anyone can do so by going to unpluggedandalive.com.

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