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NY Cell Phone Tickets Now Result in Two Points on Your License.


We were just informed by a Head Judge at one of the TVB offices that cell phone convictions in NY would carry 2 points starting later this month.

First, we wanted to confirm this was accurate and figure out when this all happened and what the rationale was.

Unfortunately for motorists, it is true. DMV gave their official notice of the rule change in the New York State Register on Dec. 15, 2010.

I say unfortunately because this will mean more licenses get suspended and more points-based Driver Assessment dollars collected than before.

However, it will NOT be unfortunate if it somehow encourages a few more drivers to go hands-free. Distracted driving is real and it is bad news.

The new rule will apply to summonses issued on or after February 16th 2011.

Thank you to NY Assemblyman Charles D. Lavine (Assembly District 13) and his Legislative Director Steven Friedman for their assistance in tracking down information concerning this new rule.

Here are some key points mentioned by the DMV in their rationale for imposing the new rule:

⁃ The DMV originally exempted mobile phone violations from the point system because “To the extent that certain instances of mobile telephone usage may result in erratic or unsafe driving, the conviction for a violation of section 1225-c will likely be accompanied by other Vehicle and Traffic Law violations which will, in and of themselves, result in the assessment of points and, therefore, aid in the identification of persistent violators.”

⁃ The DMV noted that the original cell phone law’s legislative objective was “advocating the responsible use of mobile telephones by motorists” to promote safety on New York’s public highways.

⁃ In light of this legislative objective of promoting highway safety, DMV concluded that it is appropriate at this time to impose two points for cell phone violations.

⁃ DMV recognizes that this form of distracted driving is a serious highway safety traffic offense. It is also consistent with DMV’s determination to assign two points for violations of the newer section 1225-d, the prohibition against texting while driving, which was enacted into law in 2009 and which is another form of distracted driving.

⁃ Imposing points also aligns with the legislative objective of sanctioning drivers who commit persistent violations of the law. Since cell phone violations have serious public safety consequences, it is appropriate that such violations be counted in the persistent violator equation.

DMV continues by citing some statistics to support the rule change:

⁃ In 2007, 312,445 tickets were issued for cell phone violations, resulting in 273,743 convictions. In 2008, 316,293 tickets were issued, resulting in 273,976 convictions.

⁃ Numerous studies have confirmed that distracted driving, such as driving while talking on a cell phone, significantly contributes to accidents and fatalities on the State’s highways.

⁃ AAA reports that each day distracted driving is a contributing factor in 4,000 to 8,000 crashes on our nation’s highways.

⁃ The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nationwide in 2008 5,870 people died (representing 16% of all highway fatalities) and an estimated 515,000 were injured due to distracted driving.

⁃ The number of persons who reportedly are distracted at the time of the fatal crashes has increased Best Section Begin from 8% in 2004 to 11% in 2008. NHTSA estimates that at any given time during daylight hours, approximately 11% of drivers are using some type of cell phone.

⁃ The Institute for Highway Safety reports that drivers who use hand-held cell phones are four times as likely to be involved in car crashes resulting in injury to themselves.

⁃ A Carnegie Mellon Institute study concludes that driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%.