Proposed Legislation Increases Potential Penalties For Drivers Using Cellphones When The Get Into Accidents

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TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Fred Madden (D – Gloucester, Camden) and Raymond J. Lesniak (D – Union) that would provide prosecutors with an added tool for obtaining a conviction of vehicular homicide or assault by automobile against a person who is illegally using a cell phone while driving has cleared the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.

“There is no question that improperly using a cell phone causes distractions for those out on the road. Sometimes those distractions can have tragic results. That is why it is important that we send a message that such behavior must cease. This is about saving people’s lives,” said Madden.

“At this point, drivers in New Jersey should realize that paying more attention to their cell phones than to the road is a dangerous practice,” said Lesniak. “In the case of the Kulesh, Kubert and Bolis families, innocent victims paid the price for other people’s distracted driving. This bill makes it clear that drivers who put themselves and others at risk should be subject to the strictest possible penalty under our State’s motor vehicle laws.”

A person is guilty of death by auto or assault by auto when it is proven that he or she drove a motor vehicle recklessly. This bill would put into law that the illegal use of a cell phone while driving may lead to the conclusion that the defendant was driving recklessly.

The bill is designated as “Kulesh, Kubert, and Bolis’ Law” after Helen Kulesh, who was tragically killed by a person who was using a cell phone while driving; David and Linda Kubert, who were both severely injured by a driver who was illegally using a cell phone; and Toni Bolis and her son Ryan Jeffery Bolis, who died in a motor vehicle accident that was allegedly caused by a person who was using a cell phone while driving.

The legislation now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.


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