Will tougher penalties for texting while driving in N.J. really do the trick?

    This week, a New Jersey Senate committee advanced a measure that would increase penalties for texting or talking on a cell phone while driving to as much as $600, depending on the number of offenses.

    “Right now, it’s a $100 fine,” Sen. Dick Codey, D-Essex told WHYY reporter Phil Gregory. Codey is the bill’s primary sponsor.

    What do you think of the bill? Is it a waste of time or just the kick in the pants some N.J. drivers need?Tell us in the comments below.

    “I would say right now that’s a slap on the wrist and what we’ve got to do is a slap in the face.”

    The amount of a penalty would be based on the number of offenses.

    For a first time offense, the increased penalty would be $200. For the second offense, a driver could pay $400 and for the third offense, a driver would face a $600 fine and a deduction of three points from their driver’s license.

    The measure would also allow a judge to suspend a driver’s license for 90 days for a third conviction.

    Similar legislation was passed in 2010 by the Senate. Codey says he’ll step up efforts to get the Assembly to enact it this year.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal