New Jersey lawmaker wants stiffer fines for distracted drivers

    The prospect of stiffer penalties for distracted drivers draws mixed reactions in New Jersey.

    A New Jersey lawmaker is pushing for tougher penalties for using hand-held cell phones while driving. The current fine is just a hundred dollars.

    Senator Dick Codey has introduced legislation to increase the fine to $250 for a second offense, and $500 with a 60-day license suspension for additional violations.

    New Jersey Highway Traffic Safety director Pam Fischer says a stronger penalty may be effective.

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    “It’s a way to reach those folks who maybe say a hundred dollars really doesn’t matter to me or I need a stronger deterrent to get me to change my behavior.”

    But, Steve Carrellas with the National Motorists Association says increasing the penalty may lead to more consumer opposition to the cell phone law.

    “Eventually, when that starts happening, the pain threshold increases and you start getting a bigger revolt that we’re going to turn into a repeal of the actual existing ban,” he warns.

    Since the cell phone law took effect in 2008, police around the state have issued more than 275,000 citations.

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