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Douglas E. Schwartz, Esq.

Law Offices of Foster & Mazzie, LLC

My Blog


Buckle Up Before That Summer Trip...and don't forget to buckle up the pets, too!

Posted on May 28, 2015 at 8:01 PM Comments comments (20)
The hot weather is here already and whether you're headed up to lakes and mountains, or heading 'down the shore,' don't forget to use those seat belts and car seats!  And pet restraints, too!

Most of you are likely aware of New Jersey's seat belt law, N.J.S.A. 39:3-76.2f, which requires the use of a seatbelt by occupants of all passenger vehicles, which includes vans, pick-up trucks, and sport-utility vehicles.  Any passenger, at least 8 years old but less than 18 years old, as well as the driver and front seat passenger must wear that seatbelt!   This statute was amended in 2010 to allow police to issue tickets to unbuckled back seat occupants who are 18 years old or older.

Kids?  Those up to 8 years old or 80 pounds must ride in a safety  or booster seat in the rear of the vehicle.   No front seat?  Then the  child must sit in the front seat secured by a child safety seat or booster seat.   If the child is 8-18 years old, he or she has to wear the seat belt anywhere in the vehicle.

It is worth reminding here that these seatbelt laws, which are clearly beneficial to the public, are considered secondary offenses.   See N.J.S.A. 39:3-76.2n.   Translation: you can only be cited for a seatbelt violation once you have been pulled over for some other suspected motor vehicle violation.

And those of you with pets?  Keep in mind that N.J.S.A. 4:22-17 provides penalties for animal cruelty.  Further, N.J.S.A. 4:22-18 addresses "a person who shall carry, or cause to be carried, a living animal or creature in or upon a vehicle or otherwise, in a cruel or inhumane manner, shall be guilty of a disorderly persons offense...."  (That's a $250-$1,000.00 fine and no more than 6 months in jail).  And that's only for a first offense.  [Please see the full statute for additional penalties for repeat offenders].

So use those seat belts, get the proper child or pet restraint, and enjoy safe travels. 

My best to all for the upcoming Summer.


Be Careful Before You Send That Text!

Posted on September 9, 2013 at 12:53 PM Comments comments (1)
We all know that texting and driving is a bad idea. You are also likely aware that use of a handheld cell-phone to either talk to someone or to text while you are operating the vehicle is against the law.  Under our motor vehicle laws, it is illegal to use a cell phone that is not "hands-free" while driving, except in certain specifically described emergency situations.  See N.J.S.A. 39:4-97.3. 
However, a recent opinion of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, has articulated that the sender of a text may have legal liability to an injured party if the driver of a motor vehicle reads the text and, as a result of the distraction, becomes involved in a motor vehicle accident.
The Court did not hold that someone texting to the driver of a motor vehicle was liable for that person's negligent actions and the court specifically noted that the driver bears responsibility for obeying the law and maintaining safe control of the vehicle.   
However, In Kubert v. Best, A-1128-12T4 (decided August 27, 2013), the court did find that when a texter knows or has special reason to know that the intended recipient is driving and likely to read the text message while driving, the texter has a duty to users of the public roads to refrain from sending the driver a text at that time.
A link to the unpublished edition of the case is set forth here at:
I will keep you posted as to future developments in this matter.  In the meantime, if you know that someone is driving, it's an excellent idea not to send that text!