Distracted driving, including smartphone use behind the wheel, causes a disproportionate number of serious auto accidents across the United States. In response, many states, including New York, have implemented or strengthened laws about texting and driving.
Prohibited driver actions
The law bars New York drivers from all use of portable electronic and handheld mobile devices while operating a vehicle. This includes:
- Playing electronic games
- Taking, viewing or sending pictures
- Writing, reading or transmitting text messages, email, social media, websites and other forms of electronic data
- Talking on a handheld cell phone unless calling 911 or first responders to report an emergency situation
The state has established texting zones on state thruways and highways. These areas provide a safe spot for drivers to pull over if they need to make a phone call, get directions or respond to an urgent message.
Penalties for distracted driving violations
Drivers who receive a cell phone ticket will be subject to a fine of:
- $50 to $200 for the first offense
- $50 to $250 for the second offense in an 18-month period
- $50 to $450 for third and further offenses in the same 18-month period
In addition to the base fine, each conviction carries a $93 surcharge and five points on the driver’s New York license.
Accumulating 11 or more points in 18 months will result in a suspended driver’s license. Teen drivers who have a learner’s permit or probationary license will receive an automatic permit or license suspension of 120 days for the first offense. If a second offense occurs within 18 months, the driver will receive a minimum one-year license or permit suspension.
Mobile devices are not the only driver distraction. You should refrain from eating, applying makeup and doing anything else that takes your attention off the wheel. Even a distraction that lasts seconds can result in a serious auto accident.