Assemblyman NICHOLAS CHIARAVALLOTI
District 31 (Hudson)
Assemblyman ADAM J. TALIAFERRO
District 3 (Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem)
Assemblywoman LISA SWAIN
District 38 (Bergen and Passaic)
Expands distracted driving violations to include additional forms of communication and transmission of data on wireless telephone or electronic communication device.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning distracted driving and amending P.L.2003, c.310.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. Section 1 of P.L.2003, c.310 (C.39:4-97.3) is amended to read as follows:
1. (1) a. The use of a wireless telephone or electronic communication device by an operator of a moving motor vehicle on a public road or highway shall be unlawful [except when the telephone is] .
(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1) of this subsection, the operator of a moving motor vehicle may use a hands-free wireless telephone or [the] electronic communication device for voice-based communication that is used hands-free, provided that its placement does not:
(a) allow a person to stream or otherwise view video content or engage in video conferencing while operating the moving motor vehicle; or
(b) interfere with the operation of federally required safety equipment and the operator exercises a high degree of caution in the operation of the motor vehicle. For the purposes of this section, an "electronic communication device" shall not include an amateur radio.
Nothing in P.L.2003, c.310 (C.39:4-97.3 et seq.) shall apply to the use of a citizen's band radio or two-way radio by an operator of a moving commercial motor vehicle or authorized emergency vehicle on a public road or highway.
b. The operator of a motor vehicle may use a hand-held wireless telephone while driving with one hand on the steering wheel only if:
(1) The operator has reason to fear for his life or safety, or believes that a criminal act may be perpetrated against himself or another person; or
(2) The operator is using
the telephone to report to appropriate authorities a fire, a traffic accident,
a serious road hazard or medical or hazardous materials emergency, or to report
the operator of another motor vehicle who is driving in a reckless, careless or
otherwise unsafe manner or who appears to be driving under the influence of
alcohol or drugs. A hand-held wireless telephone user's telephone records or
the testimony or written statements from appropriate authorities receiving such
calls shall be deemed sufficient evidence of the existence of all lawful calls
made under this paragraph.
As used in this act:
"Citizen's band radio" means a mobile communication device designed to allow for the transmission and receipt of radio communications on frequencies allocated for citizen's band radio service use.
"Hands-free wireless telephone" means a mobile telephone that has an internal feature or function, or that is equipped with an attachment or addition, whether or not permanently part of such mobile telephone, by which a user engages in a conversation without the use of either hand; provided, however, this definition shall not preclude the use of either hand to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function of the telephone.
“Stream” means the act of sending or receiving sound, video, or other data to a computer, mobile phone, or other electronic device directly from the internet and does not require the sound, video, or other data to be downloaded or saved prior to transmission.
"Two-way radio" means two-way communications equipment that uses VHF frequencies approved by the Federal Communications Commission.
"Use" of a wireless telephone or electronic communication device shall include, but not be limited to, talking or listening to or video conferencing with another person [on the telephone], text messaging, streaming, or sending an electronic message via the wireless telephone or electronic communication device. However, this definition shall not include the transmission of global positioning system data for the purposes of navigating a motor vehicle, or a voice-based communication that is automatically converted by the wireless telephone or electronic communication device to be sent as a message in a written form.
“Video conferencing” shall include, but not be limited to, a communication between two or more participants at different locations using computer networks to transmit audio and video data.
c. (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2007, c.198).
d. A person who violates this section shall be fined as follows:
(1) for a first offense, not less than $200 or more than $400;
(2) for a second offense, not less than $400 or more than $600; and
(3) for a third or subsequent offense, not less than $600 or more than $800 .
For a third or subsequent violation, the court, in its discretion, may order the person to forfeit the right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State for a period of 90 days. In addition, a person convicted of a third or subsequent violation shall be assessed three motor vehicle penalty points pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1982, c.43 (C.39:5-30.5).
A person who has been convicted of a previous violation of this section need not be charged as a second or subsequent offender in the complaint made against him in order to render him liable to the punishment imposed by this section on a second or subsequent offender, but if the second offense occurs more than 10 years after the first offense, the court shall treat the second conviction as a first offense for sentencing purposes and if a third offense occurs more than 10 years after the second offense, the court shall treat the third conviction as a second offense for sentencing purposes.
e. Except as provided in subsection d. of this section, no motor vehicle penalty points or automobile insurance eligibility points pursuant to section 26 of P.L.1990, c.8 (C.17:33B-14) shall be assessed for this offense.
f. The Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission shall develop and undertake a program to notify and inform the public as to the provisions of this act. Notwithstanding the provisions of R.S.39:5-41, the fines assessed pursuant to subsection d. of this section shall be collected by the court and distributed as follows: 50 percent of the fine imposed shall bepaid to the county and municipality wherein the violation occurred, to be divided equally, and 50 percent of the fine imposed shall be paid to the State Treasurer, who shall allocate the fine monies to the chief administrator to be used for this public education program, which shall include informing motorists of the dangers of texting while driving.
g. Whenever this section is used as an alternative offense in a plea agreement to any other offense in Title 39 of the Revised Statutes that would result in the assessment of motor vehicle points, the penalty shall be the same as the penalty for a violation of section 1 of P.L.2000, c.75 (C.39:4-97.2), including the surcharge imposed pursuant to subsection f. of that section, and a conviction under this section shall be considered a conviction under section 1 of P.L.2000, c.75 (C.39:4-97.2) for the purpose of determining subsequent enhanced penalties under that section.
(cf: P.L.2013, c.70, s.1)
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill expands distracted driving violations to include additional forms of communication and transmission of data on a wireless telephone or electronic communication device.
Under current law, a person is prohibited from operating a motor vehicle on a public road or highway while using a wireless telephone or electronic communication device. However, a person is permitted to operate a moving motor vehicle while using a hands-free wireless telephone or electronic communication device. This bill clarifies that a person is prohibited from streaming or otherwise viewing video content or engaging in video conferencing while operating the moving motor vehicle regardless of whether the operator is holding the telephone or device.
The bill allows a motor vehicle operator to use global positioning system data for the purposes of navigating a motor vehicle, and voice-based communication that is automatically converted by the wireless telephone or electronic communication device to be sent as a message in a written form.
The bill defines “stream” to mean the act of sending or receiving sound, video, or other data to a computer, mobile phone, or other electronic device directly from the internet and does not require the sound, video, or other data to be downloaded or saved prior to transmission. “Video conferencing” is defined to include, but not be limited to, a communication between two or more participants at different locations using computer networks to transmit audio and video data.