Texting While Driving, N.J.S.A. 39:4-97.3

April is Distracted Diving Awareness Month. To be certain, this is no April Fool’s joke. And here is another surprise you might not have known. Beginning on April 1, New Jersey cops in select towns will crack down on texting while driving. Indeed, the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety awarded $1,401,830 statewide to subsidize the UDrive Utext UPay campaign. This video from nj dot com offers information about this campaign. Additionally, South Jersey counties, accounting for one-third of all the counties, received $315,920.00, about one-fourth of the funding. This grid reflects the distribution of funds throughout South Jersey’s seven counties.

UDrive Utext UPay in South Jersey
County Subsidy
Atlantic County $52,800.00
Burlington County $79,200.00
Camden County $85,800.00
Cape May County $19,800.00
Cumberland County $0.00
Gloucester County $65,120.00
Salem County $13,200.00

Many towns will participate, but not all. Notably, the Rowan University Police Department and the Glassboro Police Department received grants for this campaign. Rowan University Police probably intend to target traffic on Mullica Hill Road, which intersects the campus where many pedestrians walk. Additionally, Cumberland County did not receive any funds.

Atlantic County police departments: Absecon, Egg Harbor Twp, Galloway, Hamilton, Hammonton, Mullica, Northfield, and Pleasantville.

Burlington County police departments: Bordentown City, Bordentown Twp, Burlington, Delanco, Delran, Evesham, Lumberton, Mount Holly, Mount Laurel, Palmyra, and Westampton. The Burlington County Sheriff also received funding.

Camden County police departments: Barrington, Bellmawr, Berlin Twp, Brooklawn, Cherry Hill, and Gloucester City. Gloucester Twp, Haddon Heights, Pennsauken, Pine Hill, Stratford, Waterford, and Winslow also received funding.

Cape May County police departments: Lower Twp, North Wildwood, and Wildwood.

Gloucester County police departments: Clayton, Deptford, East Greenwich, Elk, Franklin, Glassboro, Greenwich, Harrison, and Logan. Mantua, Monroe, Rowan University, Washington Twp, West Deptford, Westville, Woodbury Heights, Woodbury, and Woolwich also received funding..

Salem County police departments: Carneys Point and Pennsville.

Texting While Driving, N.J.S.A. 39:4-97.3

The law against improper use of a cell phone while driving prohibits more than texting while driving. This is because of the statutory definition of use. In particular, the law defines use of a wireless telephone or electronic communication device to include, without limitation, talking or listening to another person on the telephone, text messaging, or sending an electronic message via the wireless telephone or electronic communication device.

Thus, the law prohibits the use of a wireless telephone or electronic communication device by an operator of a moving motor vehicle on a public road or highway except when the telephone is a hands-free wireless telephone1 or the electronic communication device is used hands-free, provided that its placement does not 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.2

In this context, electronic communication device does not include an amateur radio. Additionally, this law does not apply to the use of a citizen’s band radio3 or two-way radio4 by an operator of a moving commercial motor vehicle or authorized emergency vehicle on a public road or highway.

Texting While Driving, Exceptions

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.

South Jersey Distracted Driving Defense Attorney Michael Smolensky, Esquire, knows how to protect his clients. Indeed, a charge of Improper Use of Cell Phone calls for an aggressive defense, and Mr. Smolensky can provide consultations for all such cases. Call Now—(856) 812-0321.



1 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.

2 N.J.S.A. 39:4-97.3.

3 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.

4 Two-way radio means two-way communications equipment that uses VHF frequencies approved by the Federal Communications Commission.