I Received a Cell Phone Ticket in New Jersey. Should I Pay it or Fight it?

December 23, 2013

Clients often ask the attorneys at the Law Office of Randolph H. Wolf whether or not cell phone violation is worth fighting.  The answers to this question is: it depends.  New Jersey’s cell phone law is provided for in the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Act 39:4-97.3 “Use of hands-free wireless telephone in moving vehicle.”  The offense is considered a non-moving violation and so does not currently carry any points. Whether or not you should fight such a ticket, however, depends on how it will affect your employment.

Randolph H. Wolf, for example, recently represented a client who had plead guilty to two cell phone offenses during a five year period.  Since the offense does not carry any motor vehicle points, the client, as many do, simply plead guilty by paying the tickets.  After just recently applying for a job, however, a potential employer informed that client that they could not extend him a job offer due to his cell phone violations.  The client then contacted Randolph H. Wolf.   Within a matter of two weeks’ time, Randolph H. Wolf was able to re-open both cases and to amend the cell phone violations to offenses that did not carry any points, had lesser fines, and did not affect the client’s employability with the potential employer.

If you are charged with a cell phone violation, it is imperative that you determine whether or not such a ticket will affect your employment, especially if you are frequently on the road for your job.  Even if you determine that the ticket will not affect your current employment, it is wise to fight the ticket if you have any future prospects of gaining employment with a company where your driving record would be taken into consideration.

New Jersey’s cell phone law, moreover, is constantly changing.  In 2004, New Jersey became the second state to make it illegal to operate a motor vehicle while using a cell phone.  In 2008, the New Jersey cell phone offense was changed from a secondary offense to a primary offense.  What this means is that police officers in New Jersey may stop and ticket drivers solely for using their cell phones while driving; it is no longer required that the officer has an independent reason for pulling over the driver.  With this change, the number of cell phone driving offenses in New Jersey have increased substantially in volume.

The New Jersey cell phone statute prohibits the use of a cell phone, unless it is a “hands free” device, while driving.  Texting is also prohibited under the statute.  A cell phone ticket currently carries a $100 fine, along with a $250 surcharge.  However, effective July 1, 2014, the penalties for cell phone violations will increase dramatically.  The new law will give New Jersey the toughest hands-free cell phone law in the nation.  For the first offense, the driver will be fined between $200 and $400.  For a second offense within ten years of the first offense, the driver will be fined between $400 and $600.  For a third of subsequent offense, the driver will be fined between $600 and $800.  Additionally, for third or subsequent offenders, the court may impose a 90 day license suspension as well as three motor vehicle penalty points.

There are several defenses to improper use of a cell phone while driving.  If you have recently received such a ticket or if you have plead guilty to such a ticket in the past and it is affecting your employment, contact Randolph H. Wolf today to get your ticket reduced or dismissed altogether.  Call today for a free consultation.

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