Texting and Driving in New York State

Posted: March 22, 2019

Texting and driving can be even more common than the old danger of talking on a cellular phone and driving. And now, with some people snapping or texting while driving – and not just teen drivers – New York police and highway patrol are cracking down on violators. In fact, tickets for texting and driving increased over 200 percent from 2012 to 2016. Penalties range from fines to points on a driver license to a suspension of the license.

What is Texting and Driving?

Texting and driving, also known as “distracted driving,” can easily result in rear-end collisions and fender benders, as drivers sometimes text during busy commuter traffic. It becomes even more dangerous on highways, with avoidable collisions that can easily be fatal. New York has stiff penalties for texting and driving, and drivers should still be aware of the laws and the consequences for breaking them.

The History of Texting and Driving Laws in New York

As cell phone technology developed, so did New York laws, changing in 2011 to make cell phone use an offense under the Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1225(d) statute. Any driver using an electronic device while operating a vehicle is subject to citation.

The 2011 amendment also included a “presumption of use” clause, in which a police officer may be able to pull someone over simply for holding a device in their hand. The officer doesn’t have to observe the actual use of the device; simply seeing it may be enough to warrant a traffic stop. The amendment applies to any hand-held electronic device, including cell phones, MP3 players, tablets and mini-tablets, gaming device, or any device with mobile data access.

Penalties for Violating the Texting and Driving Laws

A driver’s first texting and driving offense can warrant a fine or points on their license. For reference, a New York driver license is suspended once a driver reaches 11 points in an 18 month period. This doesn’t simply mean that it would take three texting and driving incidents for a driver to have their license revoked. With each subsequent violation, the fine increases. Each violation also carries increased points, meaning that testing and driving twice in a year and a half period could possibly result in a suspended license.

Any challenge to a texting and driving citation generally goes to traffic court.

How Your New York Accident Attorney Can Help

If you are injured due to another motorist’s use of an electronic device, give our Syracuse car accident attorneys at William Mattar a call.

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