April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Police officers in New York State will be looking for cell phone law violators.

Enforcement mobilization dates are April 10 – 15th.

Don’t make a dumb choice with your smart phone.



New York prohibits all drivers from using portable electronic devices.

Illegal activity includes holding a portable electronic device and:

  • Talking on a handheld mobile telephone
  • Composing, sending, reading, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving, or retrieving electronic data such as e-mail, text messages, or webpages
  • Viewing, taking, or transmitting images
  • Playing games

The law defines the following terms as:

(a) “Portable electronic device” shall mean any hand-held mobile telephone, as defined by subdivision one of section twelve hundred twenty-five-c of this article, personal digital assistant (PDA), handheld device with mobile data access, laptop computer, pager, broadband personal communication device, two-way messaging device, electronic game, or portable computing device.

(b) “Using” shall mean holding a portable electronic device while viewing, taking or transmitting images, playing games, or composing, sending, reading, viewing, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving or retrieving e-mail, text messages, or other electronic data.

Exceptions to the Laws

  • When the driver uses a hands-free mobile telephone, which allows the user to communicate without the use of either hand.
  • Using a handheld electronic device that is affixed to a vehicle surface.
  • Using a GPS device that is attached to the vehicle.
  • When the purpose of the phone call is to communicate an emergency to a police or fire department, a hospital or physician’s office, or an ambulance corps.
  • When operating an authorized emergency vehicle in the performance of official duties.

Violation Penalties and Fines — The penalty for a violation of this law shall be 5 driver violation points and a fine, as described below. This is a primary law, which means an officer may stop you if you are observed using a hand held device. It is illegal for drivers to use handheld electronic devices while their vehicle is in motion.

  • For offenses committed between October 5, 2011 and May 31, 2013, the violation carried three driver violation points.
  • For offenses committed on or after June 1, 2013, this violation carries five driver violation points.

On November 1, 2014, the following changes to the cell phone/texting laws for drivers with a probationary license, Class DJ, Class MJ or a learner permit take effect (for cell phone and texting violations committed on or after November 1, 2014):

  • Conviction will result in a mandatory 120-day driver license or permit suspension.
  • Subsequent convictions within six months of a license restoration will result in a a revocation of at least one year of a probationary license, junior license or learner permit.

On November 1, 2014, maximum fines for cell phone and/or texting use while driving will increase (for cell phone and texting violations committed on or after November 1, 2014):

  • For a first offense, $50 to $200
  • For a second offense committed within 18 months, $50 to $250
  • For a third or subsequent offense committed within 18 months, $50 to $450

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