Is It Legal to Talk on the Phone While Driving in New York?

Image of teen driver on cell phone explains cell phone violations in NY The State of New York prohibits all drivers from using any handheld cell phone or face a traffic violation with up to a $150 fine. On top of that fine, there are surcharges based on where you were issued the ticket which can run $88 or $93. What’s more, is that second or third offenses within the probation period (18 months) can result in a 120-day license suspension. Cell phone use such as talking or texting and other driving distractions are dangerous problems that cause countless auto accidents in New York. The handheld device law in New York State is the second most severe traffic offense and carries a five-point assessment to your license. 

What Counts as a Handheld Device in NY? 

New York classifies handheld devices as a cell phone, laptop, video game console, pager, PDA (personal digital assistant), or any portable device for communication and other purposes. Drivers cannot use these devices when they are in the vehicle. There are three exceptions to this law which allows drivers to use cell phones and certain types of devices, including: 

  • The electronic device is built into the vehicle like a computer dashboard. 
  • A handheld device attached to the vehicle such as GPS, but the device can’t be held in your hand while in use. 
  • The handheld device is used to contact emergency services, a hospital, or doctor in the event of an emergency or to report a situation to the police. 

How Much is a Cell Phone Ticket in NY? 

The first cell phone ticket or texting and driving ticket can run between $50 and $150. A second offense within 18 months can increase to $50-$200, and a third offense within that time can go up to $400. In addition to the ticket fine and the surcharges for the location, you may need to pay a Driver Responsibility Assessment Fee (DRA), which occurs when you accrue six or more points on your license due to traffic violations. The cost of the DRA in New York is $300 typically with an additional $75 fee per point after six. 

Your insurance premiums will likely rise, particularly after a second cell phone ticket. As the new convictions appear on your record, your rate may go up 20-30 percent. 

How Many Points is a Cell Phone Ticket in NY? 

Drivers who are convicted of a cell phone or texting violation will accrue five points on their license in New York. Those five points accumulate per violation, which carries the same weight as a violation for passing a school bus or a misdemeanor for reckless driving. New York drivers can have their license suspended after 11+ points on their driving record. A second cell phone ticket within 18 months may carry a 120-day suspension. 

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 80 percent of New York auto accidents are caused by driver inattention. Driving distractions come in many forms, from talking to passengers to applying makeup to watching the scenery. The New York law aims to reduce this immense problem by banning the use of devices that cause the most significant distraction. 

Contact Our Fishkill, New York Auto Accident Attorney 

If you or a loved one was the victim of an auto accident caused by distracted driving, the Maurer Law Firm can help. Contact us in Fishkill today at (845) 896-5295 for a free consultation. We serve clients in Fishkill, Lagrangeville, Hudson Valley, Beacon, and Myers Corner, New York. 

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