The new legislation would prohibit "any activity unrelated to the actual operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of the vehicle on a public road or highway."
New Jersey Democratic sponsors, Assemblymen John Wisniewski and Nicholas Chiaravalloti, aim to take a bite out of motorists’ wallets if they eat while driving, with a $200-$400 fine for the first offense, $400-$600 for the second offense, and $600-$800, plus up to a 90-day license suspension and points on your insurance, for third and subsequent offenses.
Wisniewski claims that the bill isn’t meant to punish drivers, but rather to “educate them” with hefty fees and, in true “Jersey” style: punishments.
"The issue is that we need to try, in every way, to discourage distracted driving, it's dangerous," Wisniewski told NJ.com. "Education and enforcement can change the attitudes of people."
Opponents of the bill argue that it is an overreach, and entirely unnecessary due to already existing laws.
"This proposed distracted driving law is not needed, since three statutes can be used when a distraction causes unsafe actions, like swerving or crossing a line," Steve Carrellas, policy and government affairs director for the National Motorists Association state chapter, contended. "There is unsafe driving, careless driving and reckless driving."
"Would [the bill] make changing the radio station or adjusting the volume illegal? What about talking to a passenger?" Carrellas asked.
Wisniewski has proposed similar bills in the past. All have failed.