Distracted driving can be defined as the engagement in any activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from the task of properly operating a motor vehicle. It is no coincidence that the increasing advancement of personal mobile technology coincides with number of cases of “distracted” driver-caused accidents. While technology shares the role of this type of distraction with grooming, tending to children, eating and looking at billboard advertisements, it is no secret that since the 2007 birth of the iPhone, technology “takes the cake” in this category.
A Myriad of Distractions
Sharing the technology spotlight in distractions, GPS devices, MP3 players and other smart devices also contribute to this growing roadway hazard. Eleven states, including New Jersey, have banned the use of a cell phones while driving completely. Currently, 41 states have banned texting on a handheld cellphone while operating a motor vehicle. New Jersey is one of these states. In fact, the law against texting while driving is now a primary law, meaning that a police officer can pull a vehicle over and ticket a driver for this violation alone – no other “reason” required.
Officers Can Search Your Phone For Evidence
New Jersey is taking this serious offense one step further. In June of 2013, a bill was proposed that could allow a police officer to search a person’s cell phone if involved in an accident, assuming “probable cause” is present. In other words, the officer would search the text messages in the phone to decide whether or not the person was actually texting while driving. Additionally, the penalties involved with this offense would also increase significantly if proven guilty. A texting driver would be facing maximum fines of $400 and 2 points on his or her driver’s license. Subsequent offenses would result in more severe penalties.
Invasion of Privacy?
Needless to say, this proposed crackdown on NJ distracted drivers raises the valid question: “Is this an invasion of privacy?” A delicate line between the fourth amendment and saving innocent lives is causing major controversy surrounding the legislation. Civil rights attorneys commented on the proposal, remarking that it will probably face constitutional challenges before becoming official.
If you are currently involved in a case in which the NJ distraction laws are being exercised, obtaining a specialized attorney would be beneficial. Contact an Essex County criminal lawyer and see if they can help to explain how the most recent of these evolving laws apply to your case.