New York Traffic Ticket lawyers are monitoring New York’s recently enacted Texting While Driving Law which was made tougher this week after a new law signed by governor Cuomo went into effect. The new law makes Texting While Driving a primary enforcement statute. This means that a police officer may stop a vehicle because the driver is observed violating this statute. In the past, a police officer could only stop a vehicle for a reason other than texting while driving and then issue the summons for Texting While Driving if there was probable cause to believe that the operator also committed an offense under New York Vehicle & Traffic Law (VTL) 1225-d. .

While New York VTL 1225-d is usually referred to as New York’s Texting While Driving Statute it punishes a broad range of conduct that does not involve texting or even using your cell phone. For example the statute is entitled “Use of Portable Electronic Devices” and defines portable electronic devices as any: hand-held mobile telephone (cell phones), PDA (personal digital assistant), handheld device with mobile data access (such as a IPAD, IPOD, or Tablet or GPS), laptop computer, broadband personal communication device, pager, two-way messaging device, electronic game, or portable computing device. This list seems like it would encompass pretty much any electronic device you can conceive of including devices that are commonly used in cars such as I-Pods and navigation devices.

In addition, if you simply are holding the device while viewing it that is considered viewing and there is a presumption built into the statute if you hold the device while driving in a “conspicuous manner” you are presumed to be “using” the device. This all means that simply holding any electronic device in your hand while driving can cause you to receive a three point ticket punishable by a fine of up to $150 plus a surcharge of a minimum of $80 for a total of $230. Plus there of course exists the possibility of insurance surcharges or increases and if you accumulate 6 points, additional fees under the Driver Responsibility Assessment.

The only two exemptions in the statute are for communicating with emergency service personnel in an emergency and of course for police, fire and ambulance personnel in the performance of their duties.

The bottom line of this new law is that the statute is broad and written to punish a wide range of conduct of which the public has not been informed. I predict that law enforcement will issue large numbers of tickets under this section and the state as a result will make a large amount of money. While I see signs all over New York warning us not to Text While Driving, I have heard or seen nothing about the broad range of conduct encompassed in this law.

If you, a friend or family member receives a ticket under VTL 1225-d please contact this office for a free telephone consultation.

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