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Distracted driver laws: Texting and phone use while driving

Cellphones are central parts of our lives today, and people are busier than ever. It is easy to get distracted thinking about those numerous emails or texts you may need to reply to. You might keep your phone nearby out of second nature. However, you can easily cause a car accident if you use your phone while driving. Attention should be on the road - not a cellphone. This is why New York has instituted strict distracted driving and cellphone use laws.

New York distracted driving laws

"Cellphone use" refers to talking on the phone or using a portable electronic device to text, take pictures, browse the web or play games. The only exception to this law is calling 911 or emergency services if there is a fire, medical emergency or other situation requiring police or medical intervention. Hands-free devices or devices affixed to your vehicle like a GPS that do not require using hands are permitted.

If you are holding and using your phone or other device in any way while driving, this violation is worth five points against your license. You will also receive a ticket and be subject to additional surcharges. Your ticket will be $50 at minimum and $200 maximum if it is your first or second offense, with a surcharge up to $93 per ticket. Fines go up to $450 for third and subsequent offenses. New York takes distracted driving laws seriously, as just a few seconds of inattention can mean someone's life.

If you receive 11 violation points in an 18-month period, your driver's license may be suspended. For probationary drivers and junior drivers holding learner permits or Class DJ or MJ licenses, your license or permit will be suspended for 120 days. If you violate the law a second time within six months of having your license or permit restored, your license or permit will be revoked for at least one year.

While these penalties may seem harsh, they are important. Being distracted behind the wheel is extremely dangerous. Please abide by New York's distracted driving laws. They will keep you and others safe on the road.

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