New York Cell Phone Ticket

As of June 2013, cell phone and texting and other electronic device usage tickets in New York will result in 5 points on your driving record.

NY Cell Phone Ticket Law and Avoiding NY Cell Phone Tickets

NYS – VTL Sec. 1225-c and 1225-d are the relevant sections of law.

Sec 1225-c deals with mobile telephones and voice communication in particular.

Sec 1225-d deals with mobile telephones (data and texting transmission) as well as all other devices such as ipods, tablets, GPS, etc.

The law offers some specifics about the definition of “using”.  It discusses holding phones in proximity to one’s ear and simply holding devices in one’s hand in general.   Anyone is free to read the law in it’s entirety but we can sum it up pretty quickly for you:

1.  If a police officer thinks he observes you holding a cell phone or somehow playing around with it or paying attention to it or another gadget or device, he’s likely to give you a ticket.

2.  With respect to phones, you will not be able to “prove” you weren’t texting or talking by simply providing a bill or other records because in most cases you really only need to be holding it according to the law.  Moreover, there are some actions (like reading a screen or listening to certain audio) that may not show up on a bill at all.  Finally, some people have more than one phone so showing one bill is not necessarily proof that it’s the bill for the phone in question.

The takeaway here shouldn’t be that these tickets are impossible to fight.  In most cases we can help and what we will try to do and may expect will vary depending on where the ticket was issued, the particular circumstances, etc.  What we warn against is reading the law and then trying to shape your use of the phone while driving based on the specific legalese.  Don’t say to yourself something like  “I’m safe as long as I don’t hold the phone ‘in the immediate proximity’ of my ear.”  Doesn’t matter how good your lawyer is or how smart you are or how well you’ve dissected the law–the best defense will always be avoiding the ticket in the first place and this is done by putting your phone away, leaving it out of sight and going completely hands free while driving.

Aggressive Cell Phone Ticket Enforcement in NY

Just read the news to see how serious the issue is from both political and enforcement ends.  Officers are out there looking to cite people for phone and device violations.  Look at the history of these tickets and see how quickly the attitude towards them has changed:

  • If you cell phone ticket was issued prior to February 16, 2011, there are no points added to your license if convicted.
  • For cell phone tickets issued between February 16, 2011 and October 4, 2011, a conviction for the violation adds two points to your license.
  • For cell phone tickets issued between October 5, 2011 and May 31, 2013, a conviction for the violation adds three points to your license.
  • For cell phone tickets issued on or after June 1, 2013, a conviction for the violation adds five points to your license.

Cell Phone Ticket Fines

Effective July 26, 2013, fines for texting or using a cell phone while driving are as follows:

  • For a first offense, $50 to $150.
  • For a second offense committed within 18 months, $50 to $200.
  • For a third or subsequent offense committed within 18 months, $50 to $400.

Cell Phone Ticket Defenses

The law does allow for use of a mobile telephone while driving “for the sole purpose of communicating with any of the following regarding an emergency situation: an emergency response operator; a hospital, physician’s office or health clinic; an ambulance company or corps; a fire department, district or company; or a police department.”

Other than the above emergency situations, try to avoid any use of any device whatsoever or you risk the increasingly severe consequences of driving while using a cell phone or other electronic device.

If you have a ticket you’d like to discuss with us, feel free to contact us anytime.