New York bans the use of “portable electronic devices” while driving, which includes writing or reading text messages. Amendments to New York traffic laws several years ago increased the number of “points” attached to the offense. A driver accrues a certain number of points for different traffic infractions. Accruing too many points results in license suspension. Police in Westchester County and around the state are on the lookout for texting while driving offenses. The number of convictions spiked shortly after the new law took effect. While the number of annual tickets has fallen since then, enforcement has remained steady. Police often use texting violations to identify other infractions, such as lack of seat belts. New York drivers should be aware of these laws and the potential consequences.
Section 1225-D of the New York Vehicle & Traffic Law prohibits texting while driving. A fine for a first offense may range from $50 to $100. A second offense within eighteen months of the first may result in a fine of $50 to $250. For a third offense within that time frame, the maximum fine increases to $450. In 2013, a new law took effect that increased penalties for texting while driving. Shortly afterwards, the governor announced a $1 million initiative to catch distracted drivers with “undercover vehicles.”
Under the Driver Violation Point System, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) assigns points to drivers for specified traffic infractions. If a driver accrues eleven or more points in an eighteen-month period, their license could be suspended. They may request a hearing before the DMV if they claim that they were not driving when an offense occurred. They cannot, however, challenge a finding of guilt before the DMV. That can only happen in the courts. The DMV increased the number of points associated with a texting while driving conviction in 2012. It now adds five points to one’s license. Most traffic offenses add three or four points.
According to the Office of the Governor, police throughout New York issued more than 30,000 tickets for texting while driving in 2012. This marked an increase of more than 234 percent over the previous year. The number of arrests for DWI reportedly only increased by four percent during that time. Media reports since then have shown that ticketing continued to increase for texting while driving. The number of texting while driving tickets issued in 2013 was eighty-nine percent greater than 2012 for all counties outside of New York City. Westchester County’s two thousand tickets in 2013 was the second-highest number, after Suffolk County.
The total annual number of texting while driving tickets in Westchester County has fallen since 2012 and 2013, but police remain on alert. One report found 167 tickets issued in the county in 2015, followed by 480 in 2016. Westchester County, which enacted its own law against texting while driving in 2009, continues to push enforcement.
If you are facing charges of alleged texting while driving, or another traffic infraction or criminal offense, our experienced team is available to discuss the charges with you and help you understand your legal rights and options. Please contact the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel today online or toll free at (914) 428-7386 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a traffic law attorney.
More Blog Posts:
New York State Tightens Penalties In DWI Cases, New York DWI Lawyer Blog, November 11, 2013
Westchester County DWI Charges and BAC of 0.15%, New York DWI Lawyer Blog, November 27, 2012
DMV Announces Enhanced Regulations Against Persistent Drunk Drivers, New York DWI Lawyer Blog, September 28, 2012