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New Jersey Goes Full Nanny State: Considers Bill to Fine Coffee-Drinking “Distracted” Drivers

New Jersey Goes Full Nanny State: Considers Bill to Fine Coffee-Drinking “Distracted” Drivers

Nanny state’s gonna nanny state

Oh, New Jersey.

Shortly after I moved to New York I had to drive to Atlantic City for work. I’d missed the memo that private citizens are forbidden from pumping their own gas because that’s a union job in New Jersey. Needless to say, after a very heated discussion with the gas-pumper, I got back into my car wondering why New Jersey functioned like a developing country.

Because not being able to pump your own gas isn’t ridiculous enough, the Garden State is considering a bill that could fine drivers for drinking coffee on their morning commute.

USA Today reports:

A bill under consideration in the state Legislature calls to 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.” That means no cup of coffee for those sitting in traffic, no munching on that breakfast burrito, no time to groom. (No, the law does not target coffee verbatim.)

The bill is meant to target distracted driving, which plays a role in thousands of fatal crashes in the state each year. At least 3,179 fatal crashes were attributed to distracted driving in 2014, according to the state’s Division of Highway Traffic Safety website. Distracted driving played a role in nearly 800,000 crashes between 2010 and 2014.

“The issue is that we need to try, in every way, to discourage distracted driving, it’s dangerous,” Assemblyman John Wisniewski, a Democrat in Central Jersey, who sponsored the bill, told The Star-Ledger. “Education and enforcement can change the attitudes of people.”

Wisniewski and two other sponsors, Assemblymen Nicholas Chiaravalloti Patrick Diegnan, said the legislation was modeled after a law in Maine passed in 2009 that outlawed distracted driving altogether.

So, the penalty for sneaking a bite of your ham sandwich? Between $200 and $400 for the first offense, $400 to $600 for the second and $600 to $800 for the third, as well as a 90-day license suspension and points on the license.

How exactly does a state enforce this whole criminalization of coffee drinking or any other “distracting” behavior?

Wisniewski fired back saying the bill doesn’t target coffee drinking, just distracted driving. Not surprisingly, “distracted driving,” is wide open for interpretation. Seldom do these things ever fall on the side of the private citizen.

Nanny state’s gonna nanny state.

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DieJustAsHappy | August 8, 2016 at 5:38 pm

I’ve had my moments of distraction due to coffee drinking while driving, although nearly all were incidental. The most serious one I had involved cigarettes (no, not any longer).

It was in the days when polyester pants were popular. Going down a highway at 70-75 mph, the live ash fell off my cigarette onto my crotch. Hello. Live ash meet polyester pants! Nearly lost the new SAAB with but several hundred miles on the odometer!

Even so, I think this pales in contrast to some of the other “distractions” I witnessed: putting on makeup, talking on car phone, talking on two (2) cell phones, doughnut in one hand coffee in another, getting dressed, and the one that takes the cake: reading a newspaper.

    Old0311 in reply to DieJustAsHappy. | August 8, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    I feel your pain. Does were dangerous times.

    Not trying to be rude, but the last thing we need is more people from the northeast.

      DieJustAsHappy in reply to Old0311. | August 8, 2016 at 7:20 pm

      Of course, the “solution” to all of this is one the way with driverless cars.
      Won’t it be great to say to your car, “Drive on, Jeeves, while reading the morning paper and consuming your favorite morning beverage’?

    rabidfox in reply to DieJustAsHappy. | August 9, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    You left out the mothers with kids rioting in the back – even strapped in they can create massive distractions.


Death. Who needs it? This law is a good first step towards zeroing out the risks that cause death. It’s about time! Any commentators want to join me in amending the constitution so we can get rid of death once and for all?

Would every building be posted as a no dying zone? Would that mean that open carry would be okie dokie?

Sounds like another attempt to get people to stop yakking on their damn phones while trying to drive.

The coffee is misdirection.

Because not being able to pump your own gas isn’t ridiculous enough…

Kemberlee, I remember the time before ‘self serve’ when it was expected that an attendant would pump the gas into your car. And there were people bitching about the indignity of having to pump their own gas for years after self serve pumps became the norm. For a while most gas stations had both full service and self serve pumps, to help the people who had trouble making the change.

I would guess there are some older folks who still curse under their breath, every time they pump their own gas. 🙂

    rabidfox in reply to rinardman. | August 9, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    Especially in January with a cold north, rain laden wind blowing. BTW, I just recently learned how to hold the pump thingy up so I don’t need to hold the handle through the entire pumping process. Yes, I am that old.

Get rid of billboards, especially the giant screen billboards, and those trucks that are mobile billboards, get rid of all advertisement that you can see from any road, it is all distracting. Not going to happen.

Distractions? So moms will not be allowed to drive more than one kid to school at a time? Or the kids will need straight jackets (not seat belts)? It’s the kids’ JOB to distract the driver.

How about a bill requiring “hands free” coffee consumption — an IV!

This reminds me of the breakfast cereal crises that Chuck Schumer tried to create in 1995. He dropped the idea within 5 minutes when somebody labeled him a “cereal killer.” We need a label.

Maybe they should outlaw drive-thrus, since it encourages people to eat/drink and drive.

Anyone who complains about NJ having gas attendants who pump your gas apparently has never lived anywhere it gets cold as a witches whatever in the winter. I love not having to get out of the car in the cold, worry about dripping gas either on myself or my car and still paying some of the lowest prices anywhere.

As for the coffee ban – sounds like a CYA law to allow a cop to stop you for almost any reason they want. At the end of the month when they haven’t met their ticket quota they could lurk around neighborhood DDs like they do around bars.

Wonder if they’re going to ticket people for yelling at their kids in the back seat? Nothing is as distracting as a couple of screaming toddlers in their car seats behind you.

The bill is meant to target distracted driving, which plays a role…

No. The bill is meant to raise revenue, and it does it by the dangerous method of requiring police officers to pull over thousands of motorists by the side of a rapid traffic stream and requiring them to get ticketed while cars zing by just a few feet away.

Traffic will be obstructed, police officers and drivers will be killed, the end revenue raised will be far less than expected, and politicians will proudly proclaim the success of this disaster while plugging their next stupid idea.

How about distracted walking? Today I actually saw a lady walking down the street who did not have a smart phone in front of her face. Amazing! People cross the street without looking for oncoming traffic and count on the driver to stop. It wouldn’t be so bad if they used the crosswalk, but that seems to be too difficult.

And another reason I will never set foot in a yankee slave state.

    OnlyRightDissentAllowed in reply to Fiftycaltx. | August 8, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    That’s rich considering all the TRAP laws in your state that keep women from getting lawful services.

    Christie will veto it, anyway. But it is probably not a good idea to drive distracted in NJ considering that Christie has let all funds for road repair run out. Don’t count on switching to mass-transit, either, considering that Hurricane Sandy ruined 100M in passenger trains that were left in a flood plain. Christie officially said it wasn’t his fault. The single 2 lane train tunnel across the Hudson needs to be taken out of service because it is 100 years old and crumbling. But it can’t be, because Christie stopped construction on a new tunnel. When anything goes wrong in 1 lane, NJ commuters get to spend 45+ extra minutes getting to work. I am all in favor of keeping taxes low, but the 2nd part of that equation is finding a way to make things work.

    I have a deal for you. Don’t ever set foot in the north, but take Christie, please!

      Kermit Gosnell also sees no need for clinic standards… be proud of the company you keep.

        OnlyRightDissentAllowed in reply to SDN. | August 9, 2016 at 7:48 am

        Yeah, TRAP laws our about Gosnell. Isn’t there something in your religion about bearing false witness. I and my ‘ilk’ want abortion safe and rare. Right-wing zealots are responsible for Gosnell whenever a goods doctor gets shot or he/she and family are harassed or a good clinic is destroyed. Gosnell or someone likes him fills the void when you regulate an honest and safe clinic out of business or remove funding for family planning. Women will seek abortions – even conservative women.

        There is a broad line between unnecessarily regulating that a clinic meet surgical outpatient standards and that doctors have admitting privileges; and the filth of Gosnell. If the zealots passing TRAP laws really cared, they would work for a compromise. But they are zealots. They want Gosnells for political reasons. That is why he keeps being brought up. Who are the other Gosnells?

        Abortion is legal in this country and the courts keep striking down TRAP laws. But you guys don’t care because you have god on your side.

      You mean the laws that try to prevent women from hiring someone to murder their unborn babies?

      Trying to phrase horrific acts in an innocuous way doesn’t make it any less horrible.

      If that’s the only thing keeping you in a hellhole like New Jersey, I’d say your priorities are a bit skewed. But don’t take that as an invitation. We southerners are perfectly happy for you to stay right where you are.

      One less idiot fleeing from a hellhole only to immediately try to change the place they escaped TO into the place they escaped FROM.

        OnlyRightDissentAllowed in reply to Sailorcurt. | August 9, 2016 at 8:30 pm

        The laws are claimed to be about protecting the woman, not stopping abortions. Are Texas lawmakers liars and are the representatives of the Texas Attorney General defending the laws committing a fraud upon the court? Maybe that explains why the higher courts threw them out. Do ya think?

        Ah, “We southerners are perfectly happy for you to stay right where you are”. You hurt my feelings. An insult and not even a creative one. That does seem to be what it comes down to when you don’t have an argument.

          Now you have done it. Most of our Texas legislators are good honorable people just like our Attorney General and the others are democrats. Momma taught me not to be too harsh to northerners because they didn’t have the benefit of being born here and their ignorance is not their fault.

I’m not sure how passing a law designed to prevent people from negligently killing other people is a sign of a “nanny state”.

Granted, I’m not a neutral observer since my sister suffered a permanent and debilitating brain injury as a result of being T-boned by a distracted driver who blew through a red light at 50 MPH.

Trying to prevent irresponsible a$$hats with poor time management skills and no respect for the fact that they are operating a 2 ton lethal weapon when they are driving from killing and/or ruining other people’s lives is being a “nanny state”?

I don’t think that phrase means what you think it means. Preventing stupid people from doing stupid things that violate the rights of other people is pretty much the definition of what the state is supposed to do.

Now, if you were railing against seatbelt laws, motorcycle helmet laws, things like that, I’d be behind you all the way. Trying to protect us from our OWN stupidity is what nanny staters do.

    rabidfox in reply to Sailorcurt. | August 9, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    Sailor, I am sorry about your sister, but…people are still being killed or maimed by drunk drivers. Passing a law like this doesn’t guarantee that people won’t sip coffee and drive. It will just make them criminals if they do.

buckeyeminuteman | August 9, 2016 at 7:45 am

No left hand turns, no pumping your own gas, toll roads everywhere, everybody’s a butt head, no coffee and driving. And the whole place is a cesspool.

A few years back, GA was doing what they called Operation Thunder, reinforcing local cops for a week or so to crack down on traffic violations. They’d bring cops from around the state. While traveling to Savannah, one deputy sideswiped a utility trailer causing the driver to lose control, accident killed the driver. Deputy claimed he looked at his cruiser’s laptop for just 10 seconds.
The real irony, the report on the accident was on the front page next to an article on the operation quoting a spokesman that said “If it saves just one life”.

    I’m with you there. Laws that apply to we “little people” should apply equally to the cops.

    They are, after all, nothing more than fellow citizens whom we’ve hired and empowered to exercise our own rights on our behalf.

    They are our employees, not our overlords.

New Jersey is a horrible State. Why would anybody live there.

This is nothing but feel good rubbish. These “distractions” are already in the vehicle code of each state. Not an itemized list of distractions but a generalization that the operator should not be doing anything that takes away from the operation of the vehicle.