For many of us, our cell phones are attached at our hips, or, more accurately, to our thumbs. As texting has become a staple of communication in today’s world, the temptation to respond to or send a text or e-mail instantaneously has become almost irresistible, even when it may mean taking your eyes off the road while driving.
However, recent changes under state law should give New Yorkers, and out-of-state drivers passing through the state, greater pause before reaching for their hand-held phones in the car.
Fines for Texting While Driving
As of July 26, 2013, a new minimum fine and higher maximum fines exist for cell phone use and texting violations in New York. The minimum fine for any offense, whether first-time or a repeat offense, is now $50. Previously, the maximum fine for any texting while driving offense was only $100. As a result of legislation meant to come down harder on texting while driving violations, the maximum fines for offenses have increased as follows:
- $150 for a first time offense;
- $200 for a second offense committed within 18 months; and
- $400 for a third or subsequent offense committed within 18 months.
For the official breakdown of fines and surcharges associated with motor vehicle cell phone violations, visit New York’s Department of Motor Vehicle website.
Points for Texting While Driving
Effective as of June 1, 2013, the penalty for violating New York’s prohibition of texting while driving has increased from three to five driver violation points. That means that texting while driving offenses now carry the same number of points as Reckless Driving (NY VTL 1212), and Passing a School Bus (NY VTL 1174) violations, with only violations for driving 21 miles per hour or more over the speed limit receiving more points.
Increased License Suspensions
As of November 1, 2014, new drivers, or drivers with a probationary driver license, a Class DJ or Class MJ Junior Driver License or a learner permit, risk facing suspension of their driver’s license or permit for 120 days if ticketed for a first-time offense of texting while driving.
A repeat offense within 6 months will now result in a mandatory revocation of their license for at least one year plus a $50-250 fine.
For further information, visit New York’s Department of Motor Vehicle website.
Increased Texting Enforcement
At the same time that the consequences for being caught texting while driving have increased in severity, the chances of getting caught are also greater than ever before.
New and more effective efforts to catch drivers who text in New York include:
- Patrol cars specifically designated to pull over distracted drivers using their cell phones;
- Unmarked State Police SUVs, in a variety of colors, set on higher than average platforms in order to give police officers a better view into drivers’ cars; and
- Periodic texting ticket blitzes.
In fact, ticket increases due to cell phone use have more than quadrupled in New York since the implementation of such new enforcement tactics. This year, the total number of cell phone and texting tickets issued during the period of July 4 through September 2was 21,580, compared with only 5,208 tickets issued during the same period last year.
To combat the reality that many drivers will still feel the temptation to text, especially when driving on longer journeys, designated texting zones, where drivers can pull over and safely text, are being established throughout the state. The texting zones will be placed in existing rest stops and parking areas, and signs posted along the highways informing drivers how many miles until the next texting zone.
What Can You Do?
If you have recently received a New York ticket for texting while driving, contact Adam H. Rosenblum of Rosenblum Law. Mr. Rosenblum has years of experience fighting traffic tickets, negotiating with prosecutors, and getting the results you are looking for.
E-mail or call him today at 888-883-5529.