Distracted Driving: Do You Really Need to Forgo that Coffee?
We often hear the term “distracted driving” applied to the use of handheld devices. In fact, most recently we wrote an article about a new distraction to drivers. But some old favorites are still out there distracting drivers. There are those who consider their time behind the wheel as ideal for putting on makeup or reading a book while behind the wheel. But what about drinking or eating while driving? Should these actions warrant a distracted driving ticket?
According to a government website, New Jersey includes drinking and eating as driving distractions. However, that does not mean that these actions are forbidden. According to news articles, Assemblyman John Wisniewski wants to expand the definition of distracted driving. The current law only includes driving while texting or talking on a handheld device.
Wondering what the proposed bill includes? It “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.” It sounds like a pretty encompassing statement. The police officer would be required to specify the distraction upon issuing the citation.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
It’s no secret that distracted driving is a big factor in many accidents. It’s not just the people who are distracted by texting or talking on their cell phones. Accidents happen when multitasking comes into play. Although sipping a cup of java may seem harmless, what happens if it spills? Will the hot liquid cause an unavoidable reaction?
Driver inattention is a close cousin to distracted driving. Instead of focusing on the road, someone may be busy screaming out the lyrics of a song. Or, they might be thinking of the day’s agenda. Anything that stops someone’s focus on driving is a potential risk for an accident.
According to the New Jersey State Police, the number of fatal motor vehicle crashes in New Jersey has increased 10% from 2015 to 2016. It is questionable how many of those accidents were related to distracted driving. However, there is evidence that distracted driving is as dangerous as driving while fatigued.
If the proposed bill becomes law, New Jersey will have the strictest distracted driving laws in the nation. The penalties for the offense are noteworthy. A ticket for a first offense would be $200-$400. A second offense carries a fine between $400-$600. Third time offenders could be fined up to $800 and receive motor vehicle points.
At the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, we have almost three decades of experience representing individuals charged with motor vehicle offenses. If you receive a ticket for distracted driving or some other offense, you should seek legal advice. Contact us for an appointment.