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New York lawmakers moving to enact stricter texting while driving ban

In 2009, the New York State Assembly enacted a comprehensive and ambitious package of vehicle traffic laws designed to cut down on the number of series and fatal accidents - especially among teen drivers.

One of the vital and more highly touted components of this package of vehicle traffic laws was a ban on texting while driving.

Interestingly enough, however, the law handed down by the State Assembly did not make texting while driving a primary offense, but rather a secondary offense.

This means that any law enforcement official in the state of New York cannot currently stop and ticket a motorist solely for texting while driving. Rather, they can only issue a citation for texting while driving if they witness a primary offense - such as speeding - and pull the driver over to issue a ticket for it.

While the texting ban was certainly well intentioned, many are now beginning to question its efficacy.

To illustrate, they point to the fact that only 3,235 citations for texting while driving were written by law enforcement officials in the state of New York in 2010. By comparison, in neighboring New Jersey, where talking and texting while driving are lumped together as primary offenses, authorities now issue roughly 10,000 citations each month.

In light of these figures, it is not surprising to hear that a bill proposing a revised version of the texting while driving ban is currently making its way through the State Assembly - passing the State Senate just last week.

The bill would not only make texting while driving a primary offense, but also do the following:

  • Assess a two-point penalty against the drivers' licenses of those caught texting while driving
  • Assess a $150 fine
  • Create instructional material regarding the dangers of talking and texting while driving for use in all driver's education courses, and include at least one question on the issue on the driver's licensing exam

It remains to be seen whether the bill will pass before the State Assembly adjourns for the session.

Stay tuned for developments from our New York traffic law blog ...

A ticket for violating a vehicle traffic law can result in serious consequences, including fines, points against your license, increased insurance rates, license suspension/revocation or even jail time. Accordingly, if you or a loved one has received a citation, don't just dismiss it.

Instead, consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Related Resources:

Push is on to make messaging while driving a primary offense (The Buffalo News)

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