, one of three states with a statewide ban on handheld cell
phone use while driving, is one step closer to making their rule a little
tougher – and likely boosting revenue by millions.
At the urging of acting Gov. Richard Codey, the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee
unanimously endorsed a measure Thursday, Nov. 30, to permit police to pull over
drivers solely for violating the ban. Currently, drivers can only be cited for
using a handheld phone when they are stopped for another offense, such as
The bill’s next stop is the full Senate,
where it is expected to pass. S1874 would then move to the state’s Assembly for
law fines drivers between $100
and $250 for using their cell phones while driving. The rule limits drivers to
the use of “hands-free” devices, but still allows drivers to dial, answer and
turn on their cell phones.
make driving while holding a phone a primary offense.
As a secondary offense,
’ law led to 11,400 citations
being issued during a one-year period ending Aug. 31.
’s law resulted in 100,250
violations in the first 15 months of enforcement.
Sen. Joseph Palaia,
R-Monmouth, a sponsor of the
bill, said making using a hand-held cell phone
a primary offense could generate $10 million to $25 million a year in fines.
Fines generally are split between the state and local governments.
Codey’s push to strengthen
’s cell phone restriction comes as
studies have shown that hands-free and hand-held phones are equally
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety
released a study this summer that indicated drivers using phones were four
times as likely to be in crashes serious enough to injure themselves.
Researchers found that the increased crash
risk was consistent for those using either hand-held or hands-free phones.