New York was the first state to pass laws against using cell phones while driving, so it’s no surprise that these laws are among the strongest in the nation. The state was an early adopter of banning texting while driving, and it’s considered a primary offense.
This means that the police can pull you over for doing it. There are many traffic crimes that only get charged when they cause an accident, but using your cell phone while driving in New York City isn’t one of them. Here are the consequences you need to know about this illegal activity.
Talking on the Phone While Driving Is Illegal in NY
New York City law states that it’s illegal to make a phone call on a handheld phone while driving a vehicle. This means a vehicle in motion. Motorists are encouraged to pull over and stop their cars to make phone calls if they have to hold their phone. It is risky to take calls while stopped at a light or in traffic.
If you have hands-free technology, or you’re calling emergency personnel to report an incident, this law does not apply to you. It also doesn’t apply if you work for emergency services and you’re performing official duties.
Consequences for cell phone use in NY can be harsh. A ticket for talking on a cell phone while driving can add five points to your driving record. The charge also carries a fine of anywhere from $50 to $450, depending on how often you’ve been caught. The maximum fine for a first offense is $200.
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Texting While Driving Is Illegal in New York
Once text messaging and other electronic device usage became popular, New York added more laws to make it illegal, similar to the rules on calling while driving. By law, using a portable electronic device includes things like:
- Doing anything with email, text messages, instant messages, or similar things.
- Doing anything with images (e.g. taking a photo on the road or sending one)
- Playing video games
- Surfing the web
The same consequences and penalties apply for this crime as in the previous section. Cell phone use and texting while driving is far more dangerous than talking on the phone with someone. New York roads have special “texting zones” where you can pull over to use your electronic devices.
Remember that your vehicle has to be in motion for you to break the law. The exception is if you’re a commercial driver. Using a device while you’re stopped, like in traffic, is still illegal. You may also have to comply with federal regulations from the FMCSA about device usage.
Why Is Using Your Cell Phone While Driving So Dangerous?
When we drive, we have to use all our senses to pay attention. Electronic devices pull our attention away from what’s going on around us, which is why these actions are also called distracted driving. You can travel much further than you think when you take your eyes off the road for even a few seconds.
Even if you had perfect multitasking and could keep your car moving safely, you can’t pay attention to what anyone else is doing if your eyes aren’t on the road. You could get pulled into a crash that you could have avoided if you were looking.
Also, if you get in a crash, and you were using your cell phone at the time of impact, it may be hard to get compensation, and you may face criminal charges. There will be questions about whether you caused the accident. If your wreck caused a fatality, you could face serious charges.
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Driving Safely in New York City
If you must take a phone call while you’re on the road, get a hands-free system. Many newer cars have built-in Bluetooth technology, so you can take calls while driving safely. Leave the phone off for everything else. You’ll stay safer and stay away from the attention of the police.
The consequences of using your cell phone while driving in New York City aren’t just expensive. Too many points on your record can lead to a license suspension or revocation of your driving privileges. That’s on top of the dangers of getting into a crash and facing life-long injuries.
If you’ve been seriously injured by a driver who was using a cell phone at the time of the accident, reach out to a car accident lawyer at Dansker & Aspromonte for more information. Evidence that another driver was distracted by the use of a cell phone or other device may be used as evidence of negligence. This evidence may include the testimony of eyewitnesses, an admission by the at-fault driver, or by records obtained from the driver’s cell phone provider.
Dansker & Aspromonte Associates have been fighting for the rights of car accident victims since 1988. Call us for a free consultation to discuss your rights. But don’t delay. The sooner you contact our attorneys, the sooner we can begin to build a strong claim for you that recovers maximum compensation for your injuries.