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Tougher Penalties for Texting While Driving [AUDIO]

If you’re one of those people who still talks or texts on a hand-held cell phone while driving, you could soon be paying dramatically higher fines, and if you’re a repeat offender you could lose your driver’s license for 90 days.

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Texting and Driving
(Lisa F. Young, ThinkStock)

A new law signed last year by Gov. Chris Christie that significantly increases penalties for texting and driving takes effect on July 1.

“The fine increases from $100 to between $200 and $400 for your first offense; your second offense between $400 and $600, your third offense between $600 and $800 and at that point we pull your license for three months,” explained State Sen. Dick Codey (D-West Orange).

The new does not yet apply to drivers stopped in traffic or at a red light, but additional legislation is being considered that could toughen the penalties for motorists caught using their mobile devices while stopped or in traffic.

Codey sponsored the bill that Christie signed into law. He said texting and talking on a hand-held cell phone while behind the wheel has overtaken drunk driving as the most dangerous practice for drivers.

“Clearly we have to send a clear message. This is a horrific thing to do. Stop it and now,” Codey said. “The New Jersey motoring public has to get the message. This is a very dangerous thing to do.”

A third offense does not guarantee a driver’s license suspension, but Codey is hopeful the courts will do the right thing.

“The judge has discretion, but hopefully that discretion would say, ‘Hey, you haven’t learned your lesson and we’re pulling your license,'” Codey said.

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