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Normal text messaging rates no longer apply in New Jersey

Warnings about how dangerous texting while driving can be are probably starting to sound like old news. It is a repeated warning only because there is still a need for it. Accidents continue to occur at shocking rates by something that could be completely avoided by something as simple as turning off the cellphone or even leaving it in a purse or center console.

In order to encourage drivers to leave the cellphone anywhere in the vehicle besides in their hands, New Jersey lawmakers increased the penalties for those who are caught texting and driving.

A bill was signed into law on Thursday, June 27. As with any new law, it did not immediately go into effect after the signing. It will be another 13 months before the new penalties will be handed out to violating drivers. 

What are those increased penalties? As it stands, a driver who is pulled over for texting while driving could receive a $100 fine per offending occurrence. That fine will now at least double; a first offender will have to pay anywhere from $200 to $400. If police determine that it is a second offense, that penalty range increases to $400 with a maximum of $600. 

Habitual offenders who don't see the behavior as dangerous significantly raise the risk for injury. Thus, those who continually offend the law could face license suspension or $600 to $800 fines where they commit three or more violations in a 10-year period. 

Senator Richard J. Codey co-sponsored the bill. After its passing, he reminded drivers that "talking or texting with a hand-held device from behidn the wheel can be just as dangerous as drunk driving." He then added that texters should watch out, because "we're going to get you." 

Source: News 12 New Jersey, "New law signed Thursday increases fines for texting and driving," June 27, 2013

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