The rising popularity of smartwatches introduces yet another device that may cause drivers to take their eyes off the road. Even if you put your cell phone away while you drive, smartwatches connect wirelessly to phones, allowing you to take calls, view texts, and get other notifications and alerts. Could you get a distracted driving ticket for using a smart watch behind the wheel?
There’s no clear answer. New York’s distracted driving law forbids drivers from using electronics, including cell phones, GPS units, and cameras. However, drivers are permitted to take phone calls while they drive if they have a hands-free connection. Likewise, drivers can listen to their phone’s GPS-guided directions if the phone is mounted or not in their hands.
The language of the law defines using as “holding a portable electronic device while viewing, taking or transmitting images, playing games, or, for the purpose of present or future communication.” Since wearing a watch leaves both hands free, it would be hard to consider that holding the device.
Drivers in this case have the advantage of technology moving faster than the law can keep up. If you get a ticket for using a smartwatch on the road, a good lawyer could argue that glancing at an alert is no different than glancing at the time. The x-factor is how long your eyes were off the road. Looking at a photo or text is not the same as glancing at a three- to four-digit number. You might have more trouble if you are caught touching the buttons or manipulating the watch on any level. This borders more closely on “using” the device. Legally, however, it would be hard to prove usage in this case, and a skilled lawyer can help argue this point.
A ticket for distracted driving costs $150 and carries five points for a first offense. Multiple violations can lead to greater fines and even a suspended license. If you or someone you love has been ticketed for distracted driving for using a smartwatch or other electronic device behind the wheel, you need to get legal assistance right away. The lawyers of the Rosenblum Law Firm are experienced traffic ticket attorneys with offices in New York and New Jersey. Email or call 888-203-2619 for a free consultation about your case.