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Consequences of Using Your Cell Phone While Driving in New York

Being aware of your surroundings is vital to staying safe and avoiding costly auto accidents when driving. While New York State’s Traffic Safety Committee has made many efforts to prevent distracted driving accidents, they continue to be a growing concern today. The TSC also states that today’s most common distracted driving activity is using mobile devices and other portable electronics.

To deter drivers from causing trouble on the road, the government has laid out the consequences of using your cell phone while driving in New York. So before you reach for the phone in the car, take a look at what you might have to deal with if you get caught.

What Are the Consequences of Using Your Cell Phone While Driving in New York?

Driving while using phones is illegal, as stated in VAT § 1225-C. The state was even the first to pass such a law in the United States back in 2001. The violation itself will get you charged with a traffic infraction along with the following fines:

  • $50 to $200 for first offenses
  • $50 to $250 for second offenses committed within 18 months of the first violation
  • $50 to $450 for three or more offenses also committed within 18 months

You also have to pay surcharges for your offense.

The New York Department of Motor Vehicles also penalizes drivers with five violation points per offense on their driving record. Learner’s permit, probationary, and Class DJ or MJ license holders can also have their licenses or permits suspended for 120 days for first convictions. Drivers who have second convictions within six months of getting the permit back will have their licenses revoked for at least a year.

The Use of Phones While Driving Can Be Proof of Negligence

If a motorist used a phone right before an auto accident, injured parties can claim that the driver’s negligent actions caused the incident. After all, the motorist should have known better than to violate the law and jeopardize the safety of others.

When seeking damages for serious injuries and pain and suffering related to the other driver’s negligence, victims must first exceed their no-fault or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy limit. Injured parties should compile all records of accident-related expenses, like hospital bills and lost income, can help calculate damages accurately.

Accident victims can work with the other driver’s insurance company to agree on a settlement amount or file a lawsuit if the settlement amount is insufficient.

Examples of Illegal Cell Phone-Related Activities When Driving

Besides calling or texting, it is also illegal to do any of the following on your phone or other electronic device:

  • Watch movies or play video games
  • Read eBooks
  • Take pictures or recording videos
  • Go on social media or websites
  • Check navigation apps
  • Browse music apps

In general, anything you do on the phone that takes your focus away from driving is illegal and can make you liable in a car accident claim or lawsuit. Take note that you also cannot use your phone when you stop at stop signs, red lights, or in traffic.

Anyone holding a phone while steering or otherwise operating a car can receive a ticket for this offense. However, they can prove that they are innocent if they have sufficient evidence.

When Can You Use a Phone While Driving?

Under New York law, the only times you can use your phone while driving is when:

  • You need to call 911 or other emergency services
  • You are making the call with hands-free technology, like Bluetooth
  • You are an emergency services worker on duty

Stay Safe and Park First Instead

The best way to avoid the consequences of using phones while driving is to park your car properly on the shoulder of the road or in a parking lot before texting or calling. If you are on the New York State Thruway or one of the state highways, you could also search for Texting Zones. These are special locations that the Department of Transportation designated for drivers who need to use their phones safely.

Involved in a Distracted Driving Accident? We are Here to Help

Auto accidents can cost a lot of money, especially if you have suffered grievous injuries, major vehicular damage, or a loved one’s death. If a driver’s phone use was the cause of your accident in Long Island, the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP has personal injury lawyers ready to help you seek compensation.

Our law office will estimate the overall cost of your damages, obtain evidence of a driver’s distracted driving, represent you in insurance negotiations, and file a lawsuit on your behalf. Let our firm take on your case as soon as possible so we can file a lawsuit by the state statute of limitations. To learn more about our legal services, you can call 516-358-6900 or schedule a consultation online.

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