N.J. stiffens distracted driver fines

State Sen. Richard Codey

New Jersey's offensive against distracted driving continues, as Gov. Chris Christie signed into law significant increases in fines for those who text & drive or use handheld cell phones. Sponsor state Sen. Richard Codey (pictured) greeted the news with tough talk: "Watch out New Jersey drivers, we're coming after you if you text and drive," he said. "If you do it we’re going to get you." The new fines are to begin late next summer. The first offense for texting or using a handheld mobile phone, currently $100, increases to as much as $400. Three-time offenders face fines up to $800, … [Read more...]

N.J. lawmakers sign off on ‘Nikki’s Law’

Nikki Kellenyi died in crash

New Jersey lawmakers have approved a plan for extensive signage warning of the dangers of distracted driving. Known as "Nikki's Law," the bill has been sent to the governor for his approval. The bill, which had both Assembly and Senate sponsors, was approved unanimously by both houses. Assemblymen John Wisniewski, who heads the Transporation Committee, says he was working on the legislation when approached by the father of Nikki Kellenyi, who died in April 2012. Mike Kellenyi believes the crash that killed his 18-year-old daughter was caused by a distracted driver, a high school … [Read more...]

Connecticut seeks insurance penalties

State Rep. Tony Guerrera of Connecticut Transportation Committee

Connecticut's General Assembly has sent to the governor legislation making electronic distracted driving a moving violation. Insurance companies would be alerted to any offenses, allowing them to raise the premiums of violators. State lawmakers also sent to the governor on June 5 a plan to hike fines for electronic driving. The idea is to see that offenders "get hit in the pocketbook," said the head of the Transportation Committee. "To some individuals, it may sound drastic, but in my opinion, it's not drastic enough," said the chairman, Rep. Tony Guerrera (pictured). He called the … [Read more...]

N.Y. hikes points for texting tickets

Gov. Andrew Cuomo raises texting points penalty

New York has again strengthened its penalties for text messaging and driving. Gov. Andrew Cuomo also pushed through the legislature enhanced penalties for young drivers who ignore the texting law. "No parent should have to experience losing a child at the hands of a text message," the governor said at a May 31 news conference. "It's amazing how chronic and prevalent this activity is," Cuomo said. Effective immediately, DMV demerits against a texting offender's license increase from 3 to 5 points, making the distracted driving infraction an even-more significant factor in determining … [Read more...]

Illinois lawmakers OK cell phone ban

Rep. John D'Amico of Illinois distracted driving foe

Illinois' General Assembly has sent to the governor a proposed law banning use of handheld wireless devices while driving in the state. Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign off on the ban, said House sponsor Rep. John D'Amico (pictured). With Quinn's signature, the mobile phone law would go into effect Jan. 1. The measure rewrites Illinois' texting & driving law to add cell phones and other wireless devices. Hands-free operation of cell phones would be allowed. Fines for driving while using a handheld cell phone would be $75 for a first offense. The second ticket would cost $100, then … [Read more...]