I Got a Ticket for Driving With a Cell Phone in New Jersey…Do I Need a Lawyer?

Using a cell phone while driving is against the law in New Jersey. (New Jersey Motor Vehicle Act 39:4-97.3 )  Many people who receive this ticket wonder:

Do I need a lawyer?  Is this ticket worth fighting?  Will I get points on my license?

The answer to this, like the answer in many legal situations, is: it depends on your specific case.

Driving on a Cell Phone

When Can the Police Give You a Ticket?

Police can issue (give) a ticket for driving while using a cell phone any time the phone is in the driver’s hand in New Jersey.  This includes talking on the phone, texting, using social media, using a GPS, using the internet, etc.

They cannot give you a ticket for using a cell phone while driving if it is being used hands free.  This includes using a cars built in blue tooth function, a blue tooth headset, etc.  (Please note that this only applies to a ticket for using a cell phone while driving and not other offenses such as careless driving or distracted driving.)

This applies any time a person is operating a motor vehicle in New Jersey except for the following exceptions:

The operator of a motor vehicle may use a hand-held wireless telephone while driving with one hand on the steering wheel only if:

  • (1) The operator has reason to fear for his life or safety, or believes that a criminal act may be perpetrated against himself or another person; or
  • (2) The operator is using the telephone to report to appropriate authorities a fire, a traffic accident, a serious road hazard or medical or hazardous materials emergency, or to report … another motor vehicle who is driving in a reckless, careless or otherwise unsafe manner or who appears to be driving under the influence…

What are the Penalties for Using a Cell Phone While Driving?

In New Jersey the penalties for receiving a ticket for using a cell phone while driving increase depending on the number of offenses you have.  Below is a list for first offenses through third (and more) offenses:

  • First offense – a fine of $200.00 to $400.00. No motor vehicle penalty points.
  • Second offense – a fine of $400.00 to $600.00. No motor vehicle penalty points.
  • Third and subsequent (more) offense- a fine of $600.00 to $800.00. Three (3) motor vehicle points are assessed. The Court, in its discretion, may order a license suspension for a period of 90 days.

For every ten years since a driving with a cell phone ticket the next driving with a cell phone ticket will not be considered a subsequent offense for sentencing purposes.  This means that if you received a driving with a cell phone ticket in 2004, as a first offense, and a second driving with a cell phone ticket in 2015, a second, it would be punished as if it were a first offense.  

If you have received a driving with a cell phone ticket and there are no points involved the decision is yours if you wish to just pay the fine and plead guilty.  The conviction will appear on your New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission Driver’s Abstract but no points will be assessed.  Before pleading guilty to any motor vehicle violation and incur fines and possible suspension of your driving privileges, schedule an appointment with an attorney experienced in handling these matters.  Contact the Herron Law Firm today for a FREE CASE CONSULTATION.