Western New Jersey

Bill toughens penalties for texting, talking while driving in NJ

TRENTON, N.J. - Motorists who can't put down their cell phones might face tougher penalties in New Jersey.

The Assembly has passed a bill that increases penalties for repeat offenders.

First-time offenders would have to pay a fine of $200. Drivers convicted of a second offense within 10 years of the first would have to pay $400. Motorists convicted of a third and subsequent offenses within 10 years would have to pay a fine of $600 and face driver's license suspension of up to 90 days.

New Jersey is among nine states and the District of Columbia that ban hand-held cell phone use for all drivers. It's also one of 35 states that bans texting for all drivers, along with D.C.

The bill now returns to the state Senate.

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