LEGISLATIVE FISCAL ESTIMATE

[Third Reprint]

SENATE, No. 69

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

DATED: MARCH 25, 2013

 

 

SUMMARY

 

 

Synopsis:

Increases fine and imposes license suspension for talking or texting on hand-held device while driving.

Type of Impact:

State Revenue Gain, General Fund.

County and Municipal Revenue and Expenditure Increase.

Agencies Affected:

New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission; Department of the Treasury; County and Municipalities.

 

Office of Legislative Services Estimate

Fiscal Impact

Year 1 

Year 2 

Year 3 

 

State Cost

Indeterminate Expenditure Increase – See comments below

 

State Revenue

Indeterminate Revenue Increase – See comments below

 

Local Cost

Indeterminate Expenditure Increase – See comments below

 

Local Revenue

Indeterminate Revenue Increase – See comments below

 

 

 

 

·        The Office of Legislative Services (OLS) notes that this bill will provide an increase in revenue for the State, county, and municipalities as the assessed fines, which are divided, increase.  Counties and municipalities may experience an increase in expenditures as a result of increased mandatory court appearances.

·        The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission expenditures will increase to provide the required anti-texting education program, by an amount up to the increase in State revenue resulting from this bill.

·        Increases fine from $100 to the following: between $200 and $400 for a first offense; between $400 and $600 for a second offense; and between $600 and $800 for third or subsequent offenses. Upon the third or subsequent offense, three motor vehicle penalty points are to be assessed.

·        The Administrative Office of the Courts noted that from June 2011 to May 2012 there were 81,133 guilty pleas for this offense.

 

 

BILL DESCRIPTION

 

      Senate Bill No. 69 (3R) of 2012 increases the fine for a first offense of talking on a hand-held wireless telephone or texting a message with a hand-held wireless electronic communication device while driving and provides for increased fines for multiple offenses.

      Under current law, the fine for this motor vehicle violation is $100. This bill increases that fine to between $200 and $400 for a first offense, $400 to $600 for a second offense, and $600 to $800 for third or subsequent offenses in the courts discretion.

      The bill also permits the court, in its discretion, to impose a 90 day driver’s license suspension for persons convicted of the offense for a third or subsequent time. In addition, third and subsequent offenders would receive three motor vehicle penalty points.

      Under this bill, a person convicted of a second offense of driving while talking or texting on a hand-held device would be treated as a first-time offender for sentencing purposes if the second offense occurs more than 10 years after the first offense. Similarly, a person convicted of a third offense would be treated as a second-time offender for sentencing purposes if the third offense occurs more than 10 years after the second offense.

      The bill requires fifty percent of fines imposed on violators to be used for the public education program to inform motorists of the dangers of texting and driving. The Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission was required to develop and undertake a public education program pursuant to the legislation that was enacted in 2003 which permitted the use of only hands-free wireless devices while driving. The remaining fifty percent of the fine is divided equally between the county and municipality where the violation occurred.

 

 

FISCAL ANALYSIS

 

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

 

      None received.

 

OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE SERVICES

 

      The OLS notes that this bill will provide an increase in revenue for the State, county, and municipalities as the assessed fines, which are divided, increase.  The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission will expend revenue to conduct an anti-texting public education program and counties and municipalities may experience an increase in expenditures based on the mandatory court appearance requirement.

      The Administrative Office of the Courts noted that from June 2011 to May 2012 there were 81,133 guilty pleas.  Under current law the fine is $100 and would have provided an estimated $8,113,300 in total revenue in this same duration.

      If the offenses occur at a similar rate of the past year and assuming that all 80,000 pleas were first offenses, OLS estimates that the fines would at minimum double the revenue for the State, counties, and municipalities.

      During a Senate Law and Public Safety committee hearing on a similar bill (Senate Bill No. 2181 of 2010), a representative from the Administrative Office of the Courts noted that any graduation in fines, such as in this bill, requires a mandatory court appearance.  It is the understanding of OLS, however, that a court fee could be assessed in addition to the fine money to offset costs that could result from the increase in the number of hearings.

      According to information provided informally by the MVC, implementation of the increased fines will require system and programming changes, and will also involve additional materials and staff costs relating to the changes. The MVC estimates these costs will total approximately $110,000.

 

 

Section:

Law and Public Safety

Analyst:

Kristin Brunner Santos

Senior Fiscal Analyst

Approved:

David J. Rosen

Legislative Budget and Finance Officer

 

 

This fiscal estimate has been prepared pursuant to P.L.1980, c.67 (C.52:13B-6 et seq.).