Starting November 1, 2009, New York drivers will have another good reason not to text while driving, it will become illegal, a traffic infraction under New York Law. New York’s new texting while driving law is going into effect Sunday and there is little doubt that police and other law enforcement officers will be looking for those who are texting while driving. The new law is subject to secondary enforcement which simply means that a motorist must commit and be stopped for another offense such as speeding, passing a red light, turn signal violation or a similar moving violation before they can be ticketed for texting while driving.
The New York texting while driving law carries no points but a fine of up to $150 can be imposed on first time violators. A recent study found that a driver who was texting while driving was 23 times more likely to be involved in accident than a driver who is not texting. While the law seems like a good idea, as I discussed on my recent television appearance on “Bronx Legal”, the law seems like it is hard to enforce and hard to prove. Police cannot seize your phone and search it for recent texts without a search warrant. In addition, existing laws permit one to dial a telephone as long as a hands free device is attached. It seems that unless the motorist admits that he is texting, it would be very difficult to prove that a motorist is texting as opposed to dialing.
Anyone who receives a ticket under New York’s new texting while driving law or for any other New York traffic violation should seek the advice of an experienced traffic court attorney.