The New Jersey Senate has approved a bill designed to toughen penalties on drivers who injure or kill others due to cell phone use.
Philly.com reported that distracted drivers could now be charged with assault or vehicular manslaughter, and face up to 10 years in jail. The measure was passed unanimously by the Assembly and Senate.
Assemblyman Charles Mainor said distracted driving was irresponsible and has devastating consequences, according to NorthJersey.com. One of the bill’s sponsors, Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, said too many people have lost their lives because of distracted drivers.
Also, according to School Transportation News, the New Jersey Senate's Law and Public Safety Committee approved a bill sponsored by Senator Richard Codey that would double fines from $100 to $200 for drivers caught talking or texting on their cellphones in the state. The second offense would be $400, and a third, $600.
New Jersey is one of nine states that prohibit handheld cell phone use for all drivers, and is one of 35 states that bans texting for all. New Jersey bans all cell phone use entirely for school bus drivers and drivers with a learner's permit.
Vehicular homicide can be punishable by five to ten years in prison, and a fine of up to $150,000. Punishment for vehicular assault can be six to eighteen months in prison with fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.
The distracted driving measures are named Kulesh, Kubert and Bolis’ Law, after New Jersey victims of such accidents.