Everything You Need to Know About New Jersey’s Texting and Driving Laws

Under New Jersey’s distracted driving law, texting and driving is punishable by fines of up to $800 and possible license suspension.
Written by Jason Tushinski
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
New Jersey
, texting and driving is banned for all drivers and is considered a primary offense—it can be punished with fines of up to $800, points on your
driving record
, and potentially a 90-day license suspension. The use of handheld devices while driving is also banned.
Distracted driving, including texting and driving, is a serious problem in New Jersey—cell phone usage is estimated to cause 22% of all vehicle crashes in the state. In fact, between 2012 and 2016, more than 800,000 accidents were attributed to distracted driving in the state. To make potential future issues even worse, an estimated 25% of New Jersey teen drivers say they always respond to text messages while driving.
To help prevent texting and driving in New Jersey, the
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What are the texting and driving laws in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, texting and driving is considered a primary offense, meaning police can pull you over for texting and driving and issue you a citation after the fact.
New Jersey drivers should know that using a handheld device is also banned. While it is not recommended, New Jersey drivers are allowed to use a smartphone in hands-free mode.
Texting and driving specifically, and distracted driving at large, have been targeted in New Jersey because they encompass three types of distractions for drivers:
  • Visual distraction: Averts driver’s eyes from the road
  • Manual distraction: Keeps driver’s hands from safely handling the steering wheel
  • Cognitive distraction: Occupies driver’s attention, when it should be on the road

What are the penalties for texting and driving in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, if caught texting and driving, you can face fines, points added to your
driving record
, and potentially a driver’s license suspension. In extreme cases involving injuries, you could face reckless driving charges, and even vehicular homicide charges if fatalities are involved.
Keep in mind: To get your license reinstated, your insurance will have to file an
on your behalf.
Here’s a rundown of penalties for texting and driving in New Jersey:
Type of violation
Points on license
1st offense
$200 to $400
2nd offense
$400 to $600
3rd and subsequent offenses
$600 to $800
3 points
Public transportation drivers can face a jail term of 6 months and a $1,000 fine if convicted of distracted driving.

Are there exceptions to New Jersey’s texting and driving law? 

Yes. New Jersey drivers are allowed to use their cell phones under the following circumstances:
  • There is reason to believe a criminal act may be committed against you or another driver
  • Calling 911 in an emergency
  • To report another driver using their cell phone while driving—if doing so, pull over safely and dial #77 to report the driver
In New Jersey, drivers are allowed to send and receive text messages while stopped at a red light.

Are there special rules about texting and driving for young drivers? 

Yes. In New Jersey, young drivers under the age of 21 who hold a learner’s permit are prohibited from using handheld devices while driving, including in hands-free mode.
Key Takeaway Texting and driving and using your cell phone can be very dangerous in the car, but drivers in New Jersey can use their phones to call 911 in an emergency.

Can texting and driving raise my insurance premium?

For a first or second offense in New Jersey, it is unlikely your insurance premium will be raised. As a non-moving violation, your insurer likely won’t see these violations on your driving record.
However, a third offense for texting and driving adds 3 points to your driving record in New Jersey. In this case, your insurance premium will almost certainly go up, as your insurer will know about your third infraction. In New Jersey, it is estimated that a third texting and driving violation will increase your premium by about 23%, or $370.
The best way to keep your insurance rates in a manageable range? Do not touch your phone while driving. The financial pain isn’t worth sending off a quick text while behind the wheel, not to mention the possible fines, penalties, injuries, and/or damage that distracted driving can cause. If you need to make a call in an emergency, safely pull over before doing so. 

How to save money on car insurance in New Jersey

A citation for texting and driving in New Jersey is expensive, even for a first violation. That certainly won’t help things if you’re paying a steep car insurance premium. But with a little help from the internet’s best car insurance broker, you’ll save a significant chunk of change to keep your overall vehicle costs manageable.
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You won’t go to jail for distracted driving in New Jersey unless the incident causes serious injuries or fatalities. In those cases, you can be charged with either reckless driving or vehicular homicide if a death occurred as a result of the incident.
Distracted driving is very serious and causes all sorts of avoidable pain and suffering every year. The smartest course of action? Concentrate your full attention on the road while driving, and don’t touch your phone.
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