You Could Do Jail Time For Talking Or Texting While Driving
Talking or texting on your hand-held cell phone while driving is potentially lethal, but people still don’t get it says Assemblyman Paul Moriarty. Today, the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee approved a Moriarty-sponsored bill cracking down on anyone who kills or injures another person while driving and illegally using a cell phone and the penalties could include time behind bars.
The legislation is named “Kulesh, Kubert and Bolis’ Law” after Helen Kulesh who was tragically killed by a person who was using a cell phone while driving, David and Linda Kubert who were both severely injured by a driver who was illegally using a cell phone, and Toni Bolis and her unborn son, Ryan Jeffrey Bolis, who died in a motor vehicle accident that was allegedly caused by a person who was using a cell phone while driving.
“Too many people have lost their lives at the hands of drivers who were distracted while talking on, texting or checking their cell phones,” says Moriarty. “Taking your eyes off the road even for a few seconds to check your cell phone could make the difference between life and death, and for some of these families, it did in the most tragic way. Enough is enough.”
The bill would make it easier for prosecutors to obtain convictions for vehicular homicide or assault by auto against a person who illegally uses a cell phone while driving and, as a result, kills or injures someone. Under current law, a person is guilty of death or assault by auto when it is proven that he or she drove a motor vehicle recklessly. This bill specifically provides that the illegal use of a cell phone while driving may give rise to an inference that the defendant was driving recklessly.
Vehicular homicide is generally a crime of the second degree, punishable by imprisonment of five to ten years, a fine of up to $150,000, or both. Assault by auto is a crime of the fourth degree if serious bodily injury occurs and a disorderly persons offense if bodily injury occurs. A fourth degree crime is punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. The penalty for a disorderly persons offense is imprisonment for up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.