NJ Bill Would Toughen Cellphone Law


cell-phoneA measure making it easier to convict drivers of vehicular homicide or assault by auto when they kill or injure someone while using a cellphone moved one step closer to becoming law Monday.

The bill, approved unanimously by the Assembly Appropriations Committee, provides that the illegal use of a cellphone while driving can be considered driving recklessly – one of the factors in finding a person guilty of vehicular homicide or assault.

Lawmakers said it’s currently difficult to hold drivers criminally accountable when they kill or injure someone while talking or texting on a cellphone. They hope the measure will make people think twice before using a cellphone while driving.

Assemblyman Charles Mainor, a Newark police detective and chairman of the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee, said distracted driving is irresponsible and has devastating consequences. And Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, one of the measure’s primary sponsors, said too many people have lost their lives due to the practice.

“Taking your eyes off the road even for a few seconds to check your cellphone could make the difference between life and death, and for some of these families, it did in the most tragic way,” Moriarty said. “Enough is enough.”

Vehicular homicide is generally punishable by imprisonment of five to ten years, and a fine up to $150,000. The punishment for assault by auto ranges from six months in prison and a $1,000 fine to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The bill now heads to the full Assembly.

{The Associated Press/Matzav.com Newscenter}