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What are the penalties in New York for texting while driving?

In society today, it is difficult to get through the day without using a cellphone. Any New Yorker can attest that these devices are not only beneficial but also necessary in many instances. They provide a way to stay connected with others, allowing one to call, message, email or research at a moment’s notice.

While this is a valuable piece of technology, it is also something that can pose risks and dangers. One place a cellphone is not useful is when a person is driving. Using a phone while driving is not only risky but opens up a driver to possible consequences.

New York law states that a motorist cannot use a hand-held mobile device while they are driving. This illegal activity includes holding a portable electronic device and talking into the handheld device, composing, sending, reading accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving or retrieving data such as a text message, e-mail or website, viewing taking or sending images or playing games.

If a motorist is using their cellphone while driving, except to call 911 or emergency personnel, a motorist could receive a traffic ticket. This also subjects the driver to a fine and a surcharge. A conviction of this traffic violation results in points being added to the motorist’s driving record. When 11 points are attained in an 18-month period, the driver may have their license suspended.

For the first offense, a motorist could be fined between $50 and $200. The second offense occurring in an 18-month period could result in fines between $50 and $250. A third or subsequent offense within 18 months carries a fine between $50 and $450. The surcharge for all of these violations is $93.

While traffic offenses might seem minor, these charges can carry hefty fines, as well as other consequences. If a motorist has been charged with this or any other traffic violation, it is important that they understand their rights and how best to go about this situation. This could help reduce the impact it has on his or her driving record and the amount of fines owed.

Source: Dmv.ny.gov, “Cell phone use & texting,” Accessed March 18, 2018

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James L. Riotto
Criminal Defense Lawyer

James L. Riotto is an accomplished criminal defense attorney serving clients in New York. With an extensive background in law enforcement and criminal prosecution, his approach to each case is unique and informed by years of experience with the New York criminal justice system. As a graduate from Albany Law School and before going on to start his own practice, James worked at the Albany County District Attorney's Office, where he helped prosecute many DWI offenses. His inside knowledge of the tactics used to gain convictions provides him with a particular advantage when defending against DUI and other criminal charges.

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Adam Staier
Of Counsel

About Attorney Adam Staier has spent the last seven years practicing criminal defense law throughout upstate New York and the Capital Region. He began his legal career through internships in civil law, indigent legal representation and federal energy law regulation. Finding a passion in criminal law, Mr. Staier held internships handling both prosecution and defense…

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