Acting Governor Kim Guadagno has recently signed a New Jersey texting law that will criminalize texting while driving. The law will allow for drivers who cause serious crashes to be prosecuted under the hands-free cellphone law.
Technically called A-1074, the bill is more popularly known as “Kulesh, Kubert and Bolis’ Law,” named for three New Jersey families who suffered death or severe loss at the hands of a texting driver. Elizabeth resident Helen Kulesh was a pedestrian fatally struck by a driver on a cell phone as she was crossing the street; David and Linda Kubert each lost a leg in a motorcycle crash with a teenager who was texting his girlfriend; Toni Bolis of Washington Township was nine months pregnant when she was killed in a cellphone-related crash.
The bill’s passage comes not long after the prosecution of a Massachusetts teenager, Aaron Deveau, who was convicted of homicide for texting while driving. Deveau’s accident killed a 55-year-old New Hampshire man, and was the first person in the country to be convicted of vehicular homicide for texting while driving.
Facts all New Jersey drivers should know about A-1074:
- If there is reasonable proof that a defendant was operating a hand-held wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle, the court may presume that the defendant was engaged in reckless driving.
- Prosecutors may charge any reckless driving offender with vehicular homicide or assault in the event of an accident.
- Vehicular homicide, usually a second-degree crime, is punishable by imprisonment of five to ten years and a fine of up to $150,000.
- Assault-by-auto is a fourth-degree crime if it results in serious bodily injury occur (classified as a disorderly persons offense if any bodily injury occurs). Assault-by-auto is punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000; a disorderly persons offense carries a sentence of 6 months imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000.
“This is about saving lives and protecting people." said Democratic Senator Fred Madden, who sponsored the New Jersey texting law. “There is no question that illegally using a cell phone causes distractions for those out on the road. Sometimes those distractions can have tragic results. That is why it is important that we send a message that such behavior must cease.”
If someone you love was injured by a texting driver, Morristown car accident attorney Manfred F. Ricciardelli, Jr., can help you seek justice. Call us today at (877) 360-0183 to get started on your FREE consultation. The call is free, and you owe us nothing unless we win your case.