New York State’s message with respect to distracted driving (texting, navigating your Ipod, talking on the phone, etc) is clear–don’t do it.
As mentioned a couple of weeks ago (More Points For Cell Phone Tickets In NY) , Governor Cuomo had set his sights on toughening existing distracted driving laws. Tuesday, it became official.
The Governor signed a new law that strengthens the enforcement against the use of handheld electronic by a driver while a vehicle is in motion. The legislation makes this action a primary traffic offense, giving law enforcement the power to stop drivers solely for engaging in this activity.
Until now, it had been a secondary offense and a traffic ticket for using a handheld electronic device could only be issued if the car was stopped for a primary offense such as speeding or red light or most other traffic violations.
The Governor also announced that the penalty for using a cellular phone without a hands-free device or using a handheld electronic device while driving would increase from two to three points through changes in state regulations. At the start of this year, this was actually a no point violation. In February it became a two point violation and five months later it’s getting a bump to a three point violation.
The law itself remains unchanged. We’ve discussed it before and you can read more about it here (NY Driving While Talking On Cell Phone And Texting While Driving)
The fines all remain the same. Traffic law enforcement and traffic ticket prosecution may indeed in most cases be more about revenue collection than safety, but this seems to be a simple straight forward attempt to get people to pay more attention and put their gadgets down while driving.
Scott Feifer, Esq.