New Jersey bill would simplify payment of cell-phone fines

| 10/7/2004

A New Jersey Assembly panel approved a bill that would spare a court appearance for drivers in the state nabbed chatting on a hand-held cell phone while driving.

The Assembly Transportation Committee voted 13-0 on Sept. 30 to send the measure to the full Assembly for consideration.

The bill, A3299, would allow violators to pay a fine through the mail instead of at municipal court. The fine for breaking the 3-month-old law would be set at a fixed rate of $100. Judges now can order fines of up to $250.

“It’s an effort to streamline the process,” Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-Parlin, said in a statement. “If you choose to plead guilty, you can send in a check.”

Currently, drivers ticketed for using a hand-held phone must show up in court even if they want to plead guilty and pay the fine.

The new law does not allow police to stop drivers for using hand-held phones. They can only be ticketed for phone use if stopped for another reason.

On July 1, New Jersey became the second state, after New York, to ban the use of hand-held phones while driving.

In New York, police can stop a driver for talking on a phone even if no other driving infraction took place.