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What are New York’s Laws on Cell Phones and Driving?

New York's Laws on Cell Phones

New York’s distracted driving law states that drivers can only use hands-free devices while talking on the phone. Text messaging, game playing, and other uses of handheld electronic devices are prohibited while behind the wheel.

New York’s law on reducing distracted driving cases was enacted on November 1, 2001.

If you are injured by another driver using their cell phone while driving, you can file a compensation claim. When you find yourself in this situation, contact our legal team at The Law Office of Joseph J. Perrini, III for assistance.

Distracted Driving and Cellphone Usage Laws in New York

As mentioned above, it is illegal for New York drivers to use any handheld cell phone or other portable electronic device used for computing or communication while their vehicle is driving. This is based on Vehicle & Traffic Law 1225 (c) and VTL 1225(d).

The activities considered illegal in New York include the following:

  • Talking on your phone
  • Scrolling, browsing, saving, writing, retrieving, accessing, transmitting, sending, reading, or writing anything on your phone
  • Taking, viewing, or transmitting images from any camera, including your phone
  • Playing or using games or apps

This law does not come into play for hands-free devices.

If law enforcement sees you holding a phone close to your ear, New York law states you are assumed to be engaged in a phone call.

For drivers of commercial motor vehicles, it is always illegal to use a phone or another portable electronic device while at a red light or another traffic signal.

There are exceptions to this law. The exceptions include if you are talking to:

  • Firefighters or the fire department
  • Health clinic, physician’s office, or hospital
  • Ambulance dispatcher or company
  • Police officer or the police department

Why Is It So Dangerous to Use Your Phone While Driving?

According to some reports, using a handheld cell phone while behind the wheel is just as (or more) dangerous as driving while intoxicated.

Because of how dangerous it is, New York has enacted significant penalties for using a handheld phone while driving. The penalties for this, if you are caught, include the following:

  • First offense carries fines of $50 to $200
  • Second offense within 18 months of the first offense comes with fines of $50 to $250
  • A third or subsequent offense within 18 months comes with a fine of $50 to $450

If you are convicted of this, you may also be forced to pay surcharges of up to $93.

The monetary fines are not the only penalties you will face. You will receive up to five points on your driver’s license. If you accumulate 11 points within 18 months, it can cause your driver’s license to be suspended.

Steps to Take if You Are Involved in an Accident with a Driver Using Their Phone

Handheld cell phones are just one example of distractions drivers have in New York. Other distractions that can lead to distractions include daydreaming, handling children and pets, grooming, and eating (to name a few).

If you are involved in an accident with a distracted driver, your priority needs to be seeking medical treatment and ensuring that others involved in the accident are safe. The next step is to contact the authorities. When the police arrive at your accident scene, ask them when and how you can get a copy of the official report.

Try to acquire as much information as possible from the other driver involved in the accident. Information to collect includes their name, contact information, address, driver’s license, auto insurance details, and tag numbers. If the other driver seems hostile and will not cooperate, ask the police officers to get the information needed for your case.

Talk to Witnesses and Take Pictures

If you did not experience significant injuries, take photos of the damage to the vehicles, the accident site, and any visible injuries you sustained. There is no such thing as too many pictures for your accident claim.

For those who saw what happened, getting their name and contact information is wise. The statements and testimony they give can support your claim.

Is It Time to Contact a New York Personal Injury Attorney?

If you are involved in an accident in New York, seek medical treatment first. After that, contact our legal team at The Law Office of Joseph J. Perrini, III, for assistance.

A lawyer from our law firm can explain your legal rights and discuss what options you have. We can also begin negotiations with the auto insurance company for the at-fault motorist to help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses.

Resolving Your Personal Injury Claim in New York

When the insurance adjuster for the other driver contacts you, refer them to us. We can handle all communications and negotiations.

Our lawyers are experienced negotiators who regularly negotiate with auto insurance companies. We know what tactics to use to help ensure your claim is successful.

Most personal injury claims are handled without going to court; however, we can take the case to court if we cannot secure fair compensation on your behalf.

If you were injured by a driver using a handheld phone in New York, we are here to help. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help with your case.

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