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Got a summons for Improper Use of a cell phone!!?

kamenliter

Member
Tonight I got pulled over by cops in Bayonne, NJ. Had a rider in the backseat. Cop comes over, I give him license and reg. I ask him if I did something wrong. Says, I'll let you know...walks away, comes back a few minutes later, asks for my insurance.

Then he says open back passenger window. Shines light on African-American female. Asks for her license. She says she doesn't have one, doesn't drive. He says she's not wearing her seatbelt, I could get a ticket for that. Asks how old she is. 17. Says that's illegal and I could get a ticket or something. Then says, I see you're an Uber driver, I'm not going to give you a ticket tonight. Then says "You were touching your cell phone. " I WAS NOT. I never touched my cell phone. How he even could see if I had, is impossible. They didn't have their headlights on in my car. I was going down a local roadway, at normal speed, with a couple of cars ahead of me, with lights. A leisurely pace, with maybe 10 min left to get passenger home.

So he walks back to the car and ten minutes later comes back with my license, reg and insurance and a summons. With a date to appear in court, infraction of 'improper use of a cell phone.' Statute 394-973. No indication of amount. So that was my night. It was around 10 pm when I got puled over.

Continued on and dropped the passenger off. Then drove to a side street, called Uber, who later said they couldn't help in these matters.

Just really disgusting. He sees a girl in the car and thinks something else? Or drugs or what? And then has to come up with crazy reasons to bust my balls and then give me a summons?? Btw, I'm white, driving in an ethnic area. Guess he's got nothing better to do or to fill their quota??

How can we use the Uber app without touching the phone? If you get a ping while you're driving, how else can you accept it without touching the phone!?? Just ridiculous.

Off to court it is I go, scheduled for mid May.

Anyone ever have to deal with that?
 

Uber's Guber

Well-Known Member
There's probably more to the story then you're giving us. Show us a pix of the summons. Touching a digital screen that's attached to a phone holder is no different than touching your radio tuner, touching your automated door locks, touching the bugger buried inside your nose, you get my point. It's probably busting you because you weren't hands-free.
Regarding the 17 year-old pax, I know that Uber has a policy against it, but I don't think its a statute written in law. I could be wrong, you being in NJ and all, so maybe somebody can fill us in.
 

Cdub2k

Well-Known Member
Uber will never help in any situation.
My advice to you is to go to court. I'm sure the dirtbag cop won't be there and your ticket will get thrown out. You did nothing wrong.
 

Fuzzyelvis

Well-Known Member
So I guess no dash cam?

What is the law where you are? In my city the only thing you can do while driving is call 911. You're not allowed to touch your phone for any other reason.

Did you know the pax was underage? That would just be a red flag with Uber, and a good hood reason to keep them out of it anyway. But why would you think they'd help with what is essentially a he said/she said argument anyway?

If the cop said you ran a red light or were speeding, and you disagreed, would you call uber over that? Why give them a reason to get rid of you?
 

kamenliter

Member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #6
Definitely not hiding anything. I had no idea the Pax was 17.

It was on a Pool, the 3rd rider. (one other was in car). It was dark,she just got in and I drove off. Dropped the 2nd rider, continued on with the girl to her destination. Didn't move my hands to the phone at all, both hands on wheel. It was an easy drive, no turns at that juncture, just driving down the road.

I agree, that if you're touching the screen for a second to accept a ride or switch the navigation it's no different than switching the dial on the radio, etc. But thing is, I wasn't. And how would anyone see that, at night. Impossible.

I called Uber because I had never had anything like this. If I ran a red light or was speeding, that would have been different and been my fault and nothing to do. But I hadn't done anything wrong.
 

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KD_LA

Well-Known Member
Author
So I guess no dash cam?
My first thought exactly... but... then I thought a dashcam mounted at the windshield, with a second lens looking inside the car, wouldn't be able to capture anything -- assuming the phone is mounted to the dash. This would be a tough situation to cover even if you wanted to...
 

Fuzzyelvis

Well-Known Member
Definitely not hiding anything. I had no idea the Pax was 17.

It was on a Pool, the 3rd rider. (one other was in car). It was dark,she just got in and I drove off. Dropped the 2nd rider, continued on with the girl to her destination. Didn't move my hands to the phone at all, both hands on wheel. It was an easy drive, no turns at that juncture, just driving down the road.

I agree, that if you're touching the screen for a second to accept a ride or switch the navigation it's no different than switching the dial on the radio, etc. But thing is, I wasn't. And how would anyone see that, at night. Impossible.

I called Uber because I had never had anything like this. If I ran a red light or was speeding, that would have been different and been my fault and nothing to do. But I hadn't done anything wrong.
But why woukd you expect anything from Uber? It doesn't matter if it was the phone or a red light ticket. It's a ticket. What exactly do you expect from uber other than to put a black mark on your record.

I'm not saying you did it. That's not the point any more than if you did or didn't run a light.

There is NO upside to telling uber, and I just don't get what you were expecting.

My first thought exactly... but... then I thought a dashcam mounted at the windshield, with a second lens looking inside the car, wouldn't be able to capture anything -- assuming the phone is mounted to the dash. This would be a tough situation to cover even if you wanted to...
The cop should have a camera. If he says he saw it, his camera should.

Also, the pax is a potential witness. But good luck for him getting her info if he didn't already.

I would definitely fight this if I was sure I didn't touch the phone. Ask for a jury trial and be a real PITA.
 

KD_LA

Well-Known Member
Author
The cop should have a camera. If he says he saw it, his camera should.

Also, the pax is a potential witness. But good luck for him getting her info if he didn't already.

I would definitely fight this if I was sure I didn't touch the phone. Ask for a jury trial and be a real PITA.
Didn't think of that, you're right... so wrapped up lately thinking about protecting myself. But yea, kamenliter don't plead out, fight this BS ticket.
 

kamenliter

Member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #12
Thanks for your comments. Yeah, I'm definitely going to fight it. For sure. I didn't ask for the girls info..I was thinking of it, but ugh it seemed like too much to ask of a 17 year old who was just trying to get home. No dashcam.

As for what I thought I might get out of it, I don't know. Maybe they've had similar incidents. Hey, I was naive, what can I say, I needed to rant.

I'll know better next time to not call them for anything like that, of course.
 

SibeRescueBrian

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Don't forget that April is the big N.J. distracted driving crackdown month. http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2018/03/utext_udrive_upay_police_to_begin_targeting_distra.html

I have no doubt that cops are under pressure to produce results, and this sounds like the officer you encountered was over-reaching here. It sucks that you have to spend time doing so, but I believe that it's worth fighting. Good luck!

P.S. SuzeCB , you always have great insights and advice. Is there anything else you can add here?
 

KD_LA

Well-Known Member
Author
Don't forget that April is the big N.J. distracted driving crackdown month. http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2018/03/utext_udrive_upay_police_to_begin_targeting_distra.html

I have no doubt that cops are under pressure to produce results, and this sounds like the officer you encountered was over-reaching here. It sucks that you have to spend time doing so, but I believe that it's worth fighting. Good luck!

P.S. SuzeCB , you always have great insights and advice. Is there anything else you can add here?
On one hand I'm thinking I'm glad I moved out of NJ :rolleyes: but... look where I landed... :eek:
 

DrivingForYou

Well-Known Member
Tonight I got pulled over by cops in Bayonne, NJ. Had a rider in the backseat. Cop comes over, I give him license and reg. I ask him if I did something wrong. Says, I'll let you know...walks away, comes back a few minutes later, asks for my insurance.

Then he says open back passenger window. Shines light on African-American female. Asks for her license. She says she doesn't have one, doesn't drive. He says she's not wearing her seatbelt, I could get a ticket for that. Asks how old she is. 17. Says that's illegal and I could get a ticket or something. Then says, I see you're an Uber driver, I'm not going to give you a ticket tonight. Then says "You were touching your cell phone. " I WAS NOT. I never touched my cell phone. How he even could see if I had, is impossible. They didn't have their headlights on in my car. I was going down a local roadway, at normal speed, with a couple of cars ahead of me, with lights. A leisurely pace, with maybe 10 min left to get passenger home.

So he walks back to the car and ten minutes later comes back with my license, reg and insurance and a summons. With a date to appear in court, infraction of 'improper use of a cell phone.' Statute 394-973. No indication of amount. So that was my night. It was around 10 pm when I got puled over.

Continued on and dropped the passenger off. Then drove to a side street, called Uber, who later said they couldn't help in these matters.

Just really disgusting. He sees a girl in the car and thinks something else? Or drugs or what? And then has to come up with crazy reasons to bust my balls and then give me a summons?? Btw, I'm white, driving in an ethnic area. Guess he's got nothing better to do or to fill their quota??

How can we use the Uber app without touching the phone? If you get a ping while you're driving, how else can you accept it without touching the phone!?? Just ridiculous.

Off to court it is I go, scheduled for mid May.

Anyone ever have to deal with that?

I've heard NJ cops were worthless bastard nazis - guess this is one example. I'd suggest fighting it - collect evidence, including photos that show your phone is properly mounted, and photos that show that the officer could not see the phone from their car. Otherwise I don't know NJ law, but it's the kind of case you should be able to get dismissed if you go in prepared.

Just FYI - if it's actually illegal to transport unaccompanied minors in your state, I suggest always asking age of young people. It's technically a misdemeanor here in California, so I am very diligent in asking. If they are I hand them a flyer with the law and a list of other Ride-Share companies that can take minors.

And finally, get dash cams!!! If you had dash cams both in and out you'd have prima facia evidence of no wrong doing, and you'd be guaranteed a dismissal (not to mention a possible suit against the officer for racially motivated harassment).

Dealing with police:

Http://YouAndThePolice.com
 

SibeRescueBrian

Well-Known Member
Moderator
On one hand I'm thinking I'm glad I moved out of NJ :rolleyes: but... look where I landed... :eek:
Living and driving in NJ is certainly a challenge. Alas, I have not yet had the pleasure of visiting your area, although it is on my list of places to see at some point.
 

kamenliter

Member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #17
Don't forget that April is the big N.J. distracted driving crackdown month.

I have no doubt that cops are under pressure to produce results, and this sounds like the officer you encountered was over-reaching here. It sucks that you have to spend time doing so, but I believe that it's worth fighting. Good luck!

P.S. SuzeCB , you always have great insights and advice. Is there anything else you can add here?
Ah, I didn't know that. I was thinking there was some quota to fill, but it was only the middle of the month. This makes sense. I will be fighting it. Thanks!
 

DrivingForYou

Well-Known Member
Regarding the 17 year-old pax, I know that Uber has a policy against it, but I don't think its a statute written in law. I could be wrong, you being in NJ and all, so maybe somebody can fill us in.
It is specifically illegal in California to take unaccompanied minors unless you as a driver have federal trustline fingerprint BG checks and 10 hours of special training. Each state is different on this matter.
 

Uber's Guber

Well-Known Member
Definitely not hiding anything. I had no idea the Pax was 17.
It was on a Pool, the 3rd rider. (one other was in car). It was dark,she just got in and I drove off. Dropped the 2nd rider, continued on with the girl to her destination. Didn't move my hands to the phone at all, both hands on wheel. It was an easy drive, no turns at that juncture, just driving down the road.
I agree, that if you're touching the screen for a second to accept a ride or switch the navigation it's no different than switching the dial on the radio, etc. But thing is, I wasn't. And how would anyone see that, at night. Impossible.
I called Uber because I had never had anything like this. If I ran a red light or was speeding, that would have been different and been my fault and nothing to do. But I hadn't done anything wrong.
Okay, this summons was recorded under statute 39:4-97.3: “Operating Motor Vehicle while Using Cellphone.”
I pulled up the statute and I find the statute to be unclear and gray. For this reason, you may want to seek counsel to have the charges dropped. In NJ, a first-time conviction under this statute is a $200 fine. However, your auto insurance provider may tag you as a careless or distracted driver and raise your premium if you are convicted.
Here’s what you need to understand: the officer will need to define in court what type of use regarding your cell phone the officer is claiming that you were engaged in. An experienced attorney specializing in NJ traffic law will engage the officer to explain the manner in which you were using a cellphone. Your attorney will pull a copy of your cell phone records and will dispute claims made by the officer, including the point you made earlier that it was impossible for the officer to know exactly what was taking place in your vehicle regarding use of the cellphone in question.
Regarding the 17 year old pax, your defense to Uber is the pax appeared to be much older when you saw them and you had no reason to suspect that the pax was a minor when you picked the pax up.
 

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