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Why to not plead guilty to cellphone violations while driving

Since texting and driving and other activities involving the use of a smartphone while behind the wheel are statistically shown to be the cause of a great number of crashes, law enforcement and governmental agencies are taking steps to dissuade drivers from the practice.

In New York State, drivers are prohibited from using portable electric devices while operating a vehicle. Included is talking on a handheld phone; messaging, reading or doing anything else with the device; taking or watching photos and videos and playing games.

If a law enforcement officer or traffic enforcement cites a driver for a violation of this law, there will be 5 points added to the violator’s driver’s license. Drivers who are operating with a probationary license, a Class DJ, Class MJ or a learner’s permit will have the driver’s license suspended for 120 days. If there are convictions of a violation again with six months after driving privileges have been restored, it will result in the driver’s license being suspended for a minimum of one year.

With a conventional license, for a first offense, the fine will be $50 to $200. A second offense within 18 months will result in a fine of $50 to $250. A third or subsequent offense within 18 months will result in a fine of $50 to $450.

There are exceptions to the law that might be used to lodge a defense. They are when the driver uses a hands-free device; when the device is affixed to a surface in the vehicle; when a GPS device that is attached to the vehicle is being used; when the call is due to an emergency to law enforcement, the fire department and the like; and when it is done as the driver is operating an emergency vehicle and performing official duties.

While many might not see cell phone violations to be of sufficient severity to hire an attorney, this is a mistake. The point system can cause problems for people as accruing a certain number can lead to a suspension of driving privileges. It will also cause insurance costs to rise. There are many reasons not to plead guilty when there is a chance to have the charges dismissed. Speaking to a legal professional about traffic violations and planning a defense is may be an important first step.

Source: safeny.ny.gov, “Distracted Driving, Talking & Texting,” accessed on June 19, 2017

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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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