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Understanding New York’s Law on Cell Phone Use While Driving

In New York, drivers cannot use handheld cell phones or other electronic devices while driving. Reading or sending texts, talking to others, playing games, taking pictures, or doing anything else on a cell phone can result in a ticket. A conviction can lead to a fine of up to $450 (depending on the number of previous violations), driver’s license demerit points, and/or the loss of driving privileges.

If you have been cited in New York, contact Martin A. Kron & Associates, P.C. at (212) 235-1525 today.

New York's Cell Phone Use While Driving Law

New York’s law on using a handheld cell phone while driving was enacted to reduce distracted driving and make roads safer.

The statute provides that it is illegal for a person to use a cell phone while their vehicle is in motion.

Activities that could constitute a violation include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Talking on the phone,
  • Writing, sending, or reading text messages,
  • Browsing or receiving electronic data like emails or web pages,
  • Viewing, taking, or sending pictures or videos, and
  • Playing games.

Cell phone use can also involve merely holding the device close to the ear or in a conspicuous manner. Officers who see such behavior may assume that the driver was on their phone. It does not matter if the individual was not actually talking to anyone or using the phone.

It’s not only cell phone use the law prohibits. Using any portable electronic device while a vehicle is in motion is unlawful. Portable electronic devices include anything that can be used to input, receive, or send data, such as laptops or handheld games.

Despite the laws, many drivers continue to use their cell phones while behind the wheel. This is especially true of younger drivers, who are more likely to be engaged in risky behaviors like texting while driving.

People might use their cell phones while driving for several reasons. For many, it might be a matter of convenience. With our busy lives, it can be difficult to resist the urge to check our phones when we get a notification or message. We may also feel like we can multi-task and handle using our phones while driving without issue.

However, the reality is that using a cell phone while driving is extremely dangerous. It increases the risk of being involved in a crash. This is because talking on the phone, regardless of how you hold it, can be distracting and take your focus off the road.

An officer may issue a ticket to a driver believed to have been using their phone while the vehicle was in motion.

Additional Restrictions for Commercial Drivers

Commercial vehicle drivers are held to a higher standard than other drivers regarding cell phone use. This is because they are responsible for carrying cargo and passengers. They must be focused on the road at all times to ensure the safety of others.

In New York, commercial drivers are prohibited from using their cell phones while driving, and their employers cannot require such use. Additionally, any person operating a motor vehicle commits a traffic violation if they use their cell phone while temporarily stopped, such as at a red light.

The Consequences of Cell Phone Use While Driving

Any person caught using a handheld device to make phone calls, send texts, access the internet, or engage in other behaviors could face fines.

The amount of the fine varies based on the number of previous violations:

  • First offense: Between $50 and $200
  • Second offense within 18 months: Between $50 and $250
  • Third or subsequent offense within 18 months: Between $50 and $450

Those convicted may also face a surcharge of up to $93.

In addition to the monetary fines, drivers will receive five points on their driver’s licenses. Accumulating 11 points within 18 months can result in a driver’s license suspension.

For probationary and junior drivers, driving privileges are lost immediately upon a conviction. For a first offense, the individual could lose their driver’s license or permit for 120 days. A second violation within 6 months of driver’s license restoration will result in revocation for a minimum of one year.

Tips For Avoiding Using Your Cell Phone While Driving

Cell phones have become a staple in our everyday lives. It’s hard to go anywhere without seeing somebody using their phone, whether texting, calling, or browsing the internet. However, using your cell phone while driving can be dangerous and lead to legal troubles.

You can do a few things to avoid using your cell phone while driving:

  • Put your phone out of reach, so you’re not tempted to use it. This could mean putting it in the glove compartment or the backseat.
  • Turn off all notifications, so you’re not tempted to look at your phone when you hear it go off.
  • If you must use your phone while driving, pull over to a safe location first.
  • Let others know that you will not be available to talk or text while driving.

By following these simple tips, you can help make the roads safer and avoid getting a ticket.

Get Help Fighting Your Ticket

In New York, it is against the law to use a handheld cell phone while driving. This includes talking on the phone, texting, emailing, and browsing the internet. You could get a ticket if you do any of these things while your vehicle is in motion. Yet, overzealous police officers might issue a citation when you clearly weren’t on your phone. Reach out to a lawyer for help challenging the allegations against you.

Schedule a consultation with a New York attorney at Martin A. Kron & Associates, P.C. by calling (212) 235-1525 or submitting an online contact form today.