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New Driver Cellphone Laws Now In Effect in New York State

New Driver Cellphone Laws Now In Effect in New York State

According to the National Highway and Transportation Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation, a person is 23x more likely to crash if they text while driving (find out more statistics from the Government studies at www.distraction.gov). Since 2010, the New York State Legislature has taken many measures to curtail distracted driving and has instituted laws to try and stop this behavior. The NYS legislature is at it again and, with a large push by Governor Cuomo, has increased the penalties for cellphone or handheld electronic device use by drivers in New York State.

Importantly, the use of either a mobile phone or a handheld electronic device while driving is a primary law, which means that an officer can stop a driver’s vehicle because that officer observed that driver using the electronic device. The law completely bans the use of a handheld electronic device by a driver while the vehicle is in motion, and the use of a mobile telephone requires the use of a hands-free device.

Effective July 26, 2013, the fines for either one of these traffic violations can now be assessed up to $150 (whereas before, the maximum fine was only $100 for cellphone use while driving).

For a first offense, fines now range from $50 to $150
For a second offense committed within 18 months, fines now range from $50 to $200
For a third or subsequent offense committed within 18 months, fines now range from $50 to $400

As of June 1, 2013, a conviction for use of a mobile device or an electronic device will result in five (5) DMV driver violation points. These DMV points remain on your record with the DMV for 18 months, and if your point total reaches 11 points or more within an 18-month period, the DMV suspends your driver license.

Effective July 1, 2013, if you are caught driving with a probationary license, Class DJ, Class MJ, or a learner permit, a conviction under the new cellphone/texting laws will result in a mandatory 60-day driver license or permit suspension.

If you have received a cellphone ticket in the past, perhaps you were able to get the charged reduced, by plea bargain, to a lower charge like a parking ticket. Now, effective July 26, 2013, all “parking tickets” (or any charge reduced to a charge under NYS VTL 1200, 1201 or 1202) will result in a $25 state-mandated surcharge that the Judge is unable to waive, thus resulting in increased fines overall for these offenses.

It is important to practice safe driving at all times for your safety and for those around you. Should you happen to receive a traffic citation of any kind, Duggan Pawlowski & Cooke LLP has the experience you need to make sure all of your rights are protected.

Call us today at 716-575-7870 to arrange for a consultation.

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