Have Driving Laws Changed Since You Earned Your License?

Posted July 8th, 2014 by .

Categories: Criminal Defense.

nj-driving-laws-changedFor many drivers, it was ages ago when they took the test to become licensed automobile operators.  Since driving laws have changed in recent years, it seems appropriate to review some of them.

Technology has played a major part in some of the new regulations. Cell phones have added a new dimension to distracted driving on both local roads, such as Summit Avenue, as well as more heavily trafficked highways such as Route 440 in Jersey City.  It is common knowledge that drivers are required to use hands free equipment.  The law is quite specific about the use of cellular phones while operating an automobile.

There are only two instances when handheld device use is permissible, with the caveat that one of the driver’s hands must be on the steering wheel:

  • Drivers can use mobile phones when they fear their life is in jeopardy or that they about to fall victim to a crime.
  • They may be used to report an emergency situation, such as a traffic accident or fire.

What about texting and talking on the phone while waiting at a red light?  The law for commercial vehicle operators is already specific on this issue.  It defines driving to include instances when a vehicle is either stuck in traffic or stopped for a traffic signal.  The New Jersey Legislature is in the process of considering a bill that includes these same distinctions for all drivers.  This would make use of handheld devices officially taboo at red lights or traffic stops.

Thinking of sending a text message to someone whom you know is driving when you transmit it?  You may expose yourself to liability if the person you are texting is in an accident.  A 2013 New Jersey Appellate Court case affirmed that knowingly distracting a driver can cause you to be partially culpable for the accident.

New Jersey is one of 43 states to ban text messaging while driving.  Earlier this month, the state increased penalties for using cellular phones for either written or verbal conversations while driving.  The new fines are among the highest in the nation and could even include a license suspension for repeat offenders.

What about seatbelts?  Most are aware that seatbelts are required for all front seat passengers.  In 2010, the law was extended to include all those seated in a motor vehicle.  Who gets the ticket if someone remains unbuckled?  The driver is ultimately responsible for ensuring that all passengers are wearing seatbelts.  However, it is also possible for the non-compliant party to receive a violation.

Lastly, do you know the law on children and safety restraints?  School buses are the only exempt vehicles when it comes to the mandate on child restraints.  Children under eight years old or less than eighty pounds are required to be strapped in either a car seat or booster seat.  The seat must be in the rear of the vehicle.  It is recommended that car seats are placed facing the rear until the child is two years old.

If you receive a traffic ticket for any of these violations or more significant matters, it is important to speak to an attorney.  The Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, PC has substantial knowledge of these types of cases and is available for consultation. Contact us for a free consultation by calling 201-963-6100.

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