Texting While Driving

Texting while driving has become a much more serious traffic infraction since 2011. When the law was first instituted two years earlier, if a driver was observed operating a motor vehicle while texting, this was considered a “secondary offense.” A secondary offense means that unless the operator of the car was also committing a “primary” offense such as speeding, following too closely, or disregarding a traffic control device, the officer would not be permitted to issue a traffic ticket for the secondary offense.

In 2011, the New York State Vehicle & Traffic Law was amended to include texting while driving as a primary offense. Additionally, the fines on texting while driving were increased to $150.00, along with the mandatory New York State surcharge of $85.00. Further, 3 points would be imposed on a driver’s license for this infraction. More recently, Governor Cuomo, with the approval of the New York State Legislature, increased the points for a texting while driving infraction from 3 to 5. To put this in some context, a driver who is issued a ticket for traveling between 21 and 30 miles per hour over the speed limit can be assessed 6 points on their driver’s license, and 11 points on a driver’s license within an 18 month period will lead to a suspension of that driver’s license.

Texting while driving has also been added to the traffic infractions which can automatically result in a suspension of a probationary and junior license for 60 days, along with violations including reckless driving and speeding. For a second texting offense within 6 months, the new law mandates a revocation of the driver’s license for 6 months and an additional 60 days for junior licenses.

In 2010, there were 3,248 texting while driving tickets, compared with an almost 70% increase to date in 2013 at the time of the writing of this page. According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the age of drivers most likely to be given a ticket for texting while driving is between 22 and 30, with drivers aged 26 the most likely to receive this infraction since the texting law went into effect in 2009. Only 44% of these infractions have resulted in convictions, according to New York State statistics.

At the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel, with offices in White Plains and the Bronx, we have successfully represented clients throughout Westchester, Putnam, Orange, Rockland and Dutchess Counties who have been charged with texting while driving and other traffic infractions involving hand held devices. If you are charged with a traffic infraction, or any criminal offense, contact our office toll free at 888-761-7633 or send us an email. We offer a free, no obligation consultation to discuss your case in detail, your legal rights and options.