Bill increasing penalties for cell phone-related accidents to be signed, sponsors say

TRENTON – Acting Gov. Kim Guadagno is expected to sign a bill Wednesday that would significantly increase penalties for motorists who cause accidents while using their cell phones.

Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, (R-25), of Morris Township, said that the signing of bill A1074, of which he is one of many co-sponsors, will take place.

“I’ve been told that is going to be signed tomorrow,” he said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Assemblyman Anthony Bucco, (R-25), of Boonton, confirmed the bill signing would take place as well.

A1074, titled the “Kulesh, Kubert and Bolis Law;” would increase penalties for individuals involved in vehicle accidents while texting or talking on their cell phone, upgrading the penalties from a disorderly persons offense.

The bill was borne out of, among other accidents, a horrendous accident involving husband-and-wife motorcyclists who were struck by a teen who was texting his girlfriend while driving. The couple, David and Linda Kubert of Dover, had their legs amputated.

The bill was passed unanimously by the Assembly last month.

The bill “provides prosecutors with a means to more easily obtain convictions for vehicular homicide or assault by auto against a person who illegally uses a cell phone while driving and, as a result, kills or injures someone.”

Deaths caused by cars carry a five-to-10-year prison sentence and a maximum $150,000 penalty.

A fourth-degree crime is punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. The penalty for a disorderly person’s offense is imprisonment for up to six months, and a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

The Office of Legislative Services estimated that each person who is imprisoned would cost the state $43,000.

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Bill increasing penalties for cell phone-related accidents to be signed, sponsors say