Punish distracted driving like drunken driving

In many ways, texting while driving is very similar to driving under the influence. Every day, I pass at least one person using his/her cell phone while driving. I can only think of all the victims of potential crashes. I wish we could find a way to stop this dangerous behavior.

In April 2019, the New Jersey Division of Highway Safety gave $5,500 to eight police departments in Atlantic County to help crack down on texting and driving, including the Stockton University Police Department. While this is a step in the right direction, it isn’t enough.

Since both texting while driving and driving under the influence distract and/or impair the driver, and both can lead to fatal accidents, I wonder why the two illegal driving behaviors aren’t treated the same?

According to NJ.gov, the minimum fine for a first offense DUI is $250 in addition to imprisonment for up to 30 days and a driver’s license suspension of three months. The minimum fine for first offense distracted driving is $200 with no mention of jail time or license suspension. The only time license suspension is brought up with distracted driving is with a third offense, and it’s not even guaranteed that the license will be suspended.

I strongly believe that there should be tighter and more effective texting and driving laws. A harsher punishment such as jail time or a license suspension for first offenders would reduce the number of distracted drivers on the road.

Nicholas Weissmann

Hammonton

Van Drew motive suspect for opposition to inquiry

In 2018, after failing to secure the Republican nomination for Congress, I endorsed Democrat Jeff Van Drew. I found Van Drew’s desire to work “across the aisle” encouraging. Van Drew’s opposition to a congressional impeachment inquiry, however, leads me to believe his rationale is based more on political pragmatism, rather than on a desire to faithfully carry out his congressional duties.

The U.S. Constitution does not expressly give Congress the power to investigate the executive branch; this power is derived from their legislative authority and has been affirmed by the Supreme Court.

The Constitution does, however, expressly state, “The president shall faithfully execute the laws of the United States.” Congressmen, therefore, have the constitutional duty to ensure the president is faithfully executing U.S. laws.

If Congress has a reasonable suspicion that the president is acting in contravention of the Constitution, its members must act. Reasonable suspicion is the lesser of two legal standards of proof utilized by law enforcement in initiating investigations and detaining persons. It is a suspicion on an individual based on specific facts, and inferences drawn from those facts. The Mueller report, which Van Drew acknowledged reading, provided what I believe is ample reasonable suspicion that the president violated the obstruction of justice statute.

Recently, Congress initiated an impeachment inquiry on the president. The inquiry was predicated on whistleblower information that the president telephonically requested the president of a foreign country to initiate an investigation on a political opponent of the president. A released transcript of the call corroborated much of this information. More concerning is the allegation, which I believe is considerably proven, that the president withheld foreign aid to this country unless that country ceded to his demands. In either case, the lower suspicion threshold has been met.

Corroborative evidence of the above allegations is necessary to satisfy the more stringent legal proof standard, probable cause, upon which any impeachment finding should be based. If the inquiry results in an impeachment vote, Van Drew’s vote must be based solely on a careful evaluation of evidence obtained, free of influence from either political party.

Robert Turkavage

Brigantine

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