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Higher Penalties For Texting While Driving In NJ Begin Today

By Tim Jimenez

TRENTON, NJ (CBS) - Distracted driving in New Jersey is going to cost you more if you get caught, and it all starts today.

Fines for texting or talking on your cell phone while driving in the Garden State have increased significantly. Instead of a $100 dollar penalty for a first time offense, you could pay between $200 and $400. A second offense is between $400 and $600, and the third time, not a charm, with a fine of up to $800 and the possibility of a suspended license.

"We're sending a message," says former Governor and current state Senator Richard Codey, a proponent of the increases, which Governor Christie signed last year.

"We've had enough and the people who text and talk on their handheld cell phones are the new drunk drivers in terms of severity and danger in what they create on the roads."

New Jersey officials say distracted driving has been linked to one and a half million crashes in the state in the past decade.

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