STATE POLICE AND PARTNERS TOUT SAFETY
AS MOTORISTS (CELL)EBRATE JULY 4th HOLIDAY
West Trenton - New Jersey State Police Colonel Rick Fuentes today called on all New
Jersey drivers to make highway safety a top priority during the upcoming Fourth of July Holiday
and throughout the remainder of the summer driving season.
Colonel Fuentes reminded motorists that the new law banning the use of hand-held cell phones by the operator of a motor vehicle took effect on July 1st, 2004. The new law prohibits the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. The law defines "use" as talking or listening while operating a motor vehicle. In cases of emergency cell phones can be utilized without violating the law. The law is considered a "secondary" offense and can only be enforced when the driver is stopped for committing a motor vehicle violation or another offense. The fine shall not be less than $100.00 or more than $200.00 and no motor vehicle points shall be assessed.
State Troopers will continue to partner with local and county law enforcement officers in a high intensity enforcement program targeting drivers who operate under the influence of alcohol. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), of the 42,850 people killed on our nation's roads in 2002, 17,970 or 42% were alcohol-related crashes. In 2003, 17,401 motorists were killed in alcohol-related accidents, which represents approximately 40% of the year's total of 43,220. Troopers will be mobilized around the state to identify the drunk and drinking driver and will staff stationary sobriety checkpoints in all State Police patrolled areas. The stepped-up enforcement will remain in effect through July and will encompass all State Police patrol areas, including the New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway, Atlantic City Expressway, and all interstate highways.
The State Police will maximize patrol resources throughout the July 4th holiday period and urged drivers to stay alert during their summer driving trips. Troopers, county and municipal officers will not only focus on DWI violators, but also will pay particular attention to those not wearing seat belts, as well as, the inattentive, careless and drowsy driver as they patrol and enforce the state's traffic laws and promote safe driving practices.
As part of the overall highway safety and enforcement program, increased numbers of State Troopers will be assigned to high visibility tactical patrol units to monitor traffic using state-of-the-art speed enforcement technology and equipment.
The 2004 July 4th holiday officially begins at 12:01 a.m. on Fri., July 2nd and continues through midnight on Mon., July 4th. During the 2003 July 4th holiday, 6 persons lost their lives as a result of 5 fatal motor vehicle accidents on New Jersey roadways. 299 people have died in traffic-related accidents so far this year (Jan. 1 through June 28) compared to 348 highway deaths recorded during the same period last year (2003) - a 14.1 percent decrease in overall highway deaths.
In addition to increased highway safety responsibilities, Colonel Fuentes stressed that personnel assigned to the State Police Marine Patrol Bureau will be patrolling the ocean, bays, inter-coastal waterways, rivers and lakes throughout the summer boating season. Enforcement activities will focus on drunk and drinking boaters and persons recklessly operating personal watercraft (jet skis) and other power vessels.
New Jersey's boating laws and regulations require that operators of personal watercraft be at least 16 years of age; that persons born after Jan. 1, 1979 obtain a state boating safety certificate and have that certificate in their possession when operating any power vessel; that person born on or before Dec. 31, 1978 have state boating safety certificate in their possession when operating a personal watercraft and that operators on non-tidal waters have a New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles boating license in addition to a state boating safety certificate. Power vessel operators without a boating certificate will be subject to fines ranging from $100 to $500.
The New Jersey State Police also issued a reminder to New Jersey residents and visitors that all firework are illegal to possess and use and that it is a crime to sell, use, and/or possess any kind of fireworks-including Chinese firecrackers, Roman candles, M80's, cherry bombs, salutes, M100's, sparklers, etc.
The State Police noted that the vast majority of illegal fireworks are brought into New Jersey by adults and, as a result of such irresponsible actions, a disproportionate number of children suffer injuries. In an effort to prevent injuries and property damage, State Police step-up enforcement activities during the summer "fireworks season" confiscating illegal fireworks wherever found. In any given year, the State Police confiscate between 500 and 1,000 cases of illegal fireworks or approximately six to eight tons of illegal explosives.
Possession of illegal fireworks is a disorderly person offense and is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to 30 days in jail. Possession with intent to sell is a Fourth Degree crime, punishable by fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to 18 months in jail. And, possession of destructive devices is a Third Degree crime with fines of up to $10,000 and incarceration of up to three to five years in jail.
# # #