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Distracted driving is the number one cause of motor vehicle crashes in New York. While the most common kind of distracted driving offense is texting and driving, drivers can also be distracted by:

  • Other passengers in the vehicle
  • Eating or drinking while they drive
  • Grooming practices such as applying makeup, doing their hair, etc.
  • Any use of a cellphone or other electronic device involving making calls, playing games, etc.

Form of distracted driving also include operating a vehicle while drowsy and engaging in other secondary tasks like changing the music, which diverts a driver’s attention for even just a few seconds.

New York Distracted Driving Laws

According to New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1225-C, drivers are not permitted to hold their phones to or near their ears, because it will be believed that they are making a call. Drivers are also not permitted to use their phones at all; usage, under this statute is defined as:

  • dialing or answering a call by pressing more than a single button, or
  • reaching for your phone in such a way that requires you to maneuver and no longer be seated in a driving position.

Under New York Vehicle and Traffic Laws § 1225-D, drivers cannot use portable electronic devices while driving, which includes holding the device with the intent to:

  • play games,
  • perform a command,
  • access the internet,
  • compose, send, read, browse, save, or retrieve email, text, or instant messages or other electronic data.

This excludes instances where the driver is in an emergency situation and attempting to communicate with:

  • An emergency response operator
  • A hospital, physician’s office or clinic
  • An ambulance company
  • The fire department, district, or company
  • The police department
  • Police officers, fire department officials, or authorized emergency service vehicle operators (if they are performing their official duties)

Portable electronic devices include but are not limited to:

  • Any hand-held mobile telephone outlined in § 1225-C
  • PDAs
  • Laptops
  • Pagers
  • Broadband personal communication devices
  • Two-way messaging devices
  • Electronic games
  • Portable computing devices
  • Handheld devices with mobile data access
  • Any other electronic device used to input, write, send, receive, or read a text for communication in the present or future

Can You Text at a Red Light?

No, you may not (see NY Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1225-D). Even if you are temporarily paused due to traffic lights, traffic itself, or another momentary delay, you cannot hold or use your mobile device (or another portable electronic device) while stopped at a red light. Do not text, play games, or make a call at a red light unless it is hands-free device.

Can You Talk on the Phone in Certain Instances?

Yes, you can talk on the phone or respond to texts if you do so using hands-free methods. Some cars have voice-to-text and other hands-free options available to drivers.

The Consequences of Driving Distracted

If you are found guilty of driving distracted or cellphone usage laws, you can face the following legal penalties:

  • 5 points added to your license (if you receive 11 points within 18 months, you face driver’s license suspension)
  • Fines of $50-$450, depending on whether this is a first-, second-, or third-time offense
  • Additional surcharges of up to $93

Fighting Distracted Driving Violations

To avoid fines and points on your license, you should contact Martin A. Kron & Associates, P.C. as soon as possible. We have a wealth of experience supporting clients facing distracted driving violations, and our founding attorney is a former traffic court judge. Because of this experience, we understand how the other side operates.

To schedule a consultation, reach out to us online or call (212) 235-1525. When you retain us, we will work to get your violation dismissed or reduced.

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