Police begin crackdown on drivers using cell phones

Police have been setting up checkpoints in Essex County in an effort to enforce the state's crackdown on drivers who use cell phones.

A new law allowing police to pull over drivers holding cell phones went into effect March 1. Drivers face a $100 ticket if they get caught on a cell phone that is not hands-free.

Officers in Nutley have set up a checkpoint at the corner of Franklin Avenue and Centre Street to spot lawbreakers. Lt. Steve Rogers, of the Nutley Police Department, says he only saw about one-third of the area's drivers using handheld phones before the new regulation.

Before March, the state's motorists could only be issued a ticket if the cell phone violation was a second offense. A driver would need to be busted for something else before they could be penalized for the phone infraction.

Police officials say they've already seen an increase in drivers who either utilize hands-free calling or simply pull over when they need to chat.

N.J. drivers scurry to get hands on hands-free devices NJ ramps up cell phone driving crackdown

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