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New Law Could Impose Fines on Drinking and Eating While Driving

woman eating ice cream while driving

Drivers attempting to apply makeup, eat breakfast, or read while behind the wheel aren’t uncommon on New Jersey roads, but the days of such practices being legal may be numbered. A bill currently under consideration by the New Jersey State Assembly would impose steep fines on drivers who eat, groom themselves, drink, or read while driving.

Distracted driving is a lethal problem on American highways. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, distracted driving was a factor in crashes taking the lives of 3,179 drivers and passengers in 2014, while another 431,000 were injured in crashes caused by distracted drivers. Three New Jersey state Assemblymen are seeking to limit the fatal effects of distracted driving on New Jersey roads. The bill, sponsored by Assemblymen John Wisniewski, Nicholas Chiaravalloti, and Patrick Diegnan, would bar drivers from “any activity unrelated to the actual operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of the vehicle on a public road or highway.”

While texting is a known dangerous distraction, research shows that eating and drinking can also pull drivers’ attention from the events occurring on the road before them.

Wisniewski stated, “[t]he issue is that we need to try, in every way, to discourage distracted driving. It’s dangerous. Education and enforcement can change the attitudes of people.”

The law would impose substantial penalties on those who try to multitask behind the wheel. For an initial offense, drivers could receive a fine ranging between $200 and $400. Second offenses could result in fines of up to $600. Third offenses could result in drivers losing the ability to drive from a suspension of their license, points being added to their driver’s license, and the imposition of between $600 and $800 in fines. Maine already has a similar law on the books, and penalties for eating behind the wheel have existed in the UK for years. British drivers stand to incur an up to 40% increase in their insurance premiums if they are caught eating while driving.

If you have been hurt in a car or truck accident in New Jersey that involved a distracted driver, get help pursuing a legal claim for damages by contacting the determined and dedicated personal injury attorney Andrew R. Jacobs for a consultation on your case, at 973-532-9681.

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