Pennsylvania drivers on cell phones will soon have to hang up or go hands-free when they cross into New Jersey.
A ban on using hand-held cellular phones while driving in the Garden State goes into effect July 1 and will include out-of-state motorists, whether they're aware of the law or not.
"According to the mandate from the attorney general, the law is effective July 1 and will be enforced," said Bob Gaydosh, a regional supervisor for the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety. "But there may be discretion at the local level with a particular police officer or township to offer a grace period or warnings for a month or two."
To stay in the good graces of law enforcement officials, drivers on New Jersey roads who are talking on cell phones must switch to a hands-free headset, a device that plugs into standard cell phones and allows callers to carry on a conversation via an earpiece and attached mini-microphone.
The hand-held cell phone ban is a summary law, Gaydosh explained, meaning a driver can only be cited if he has already been pulled over for another offense. While fines for the violation will run between $100 and $250, no points will be added to a person's license. In addition, exceptions will be made for drivers reporting a crash, crime or aggressive driving, or in an emergency situation of any kind.
"We're trying to promote this law to raise more awareness about driving distractions in general," Gaydosh said. "It's not just cell phones that cause accidents, but people eating, drinking, dealing with pets or putting on makeup."