The nation has been making aggressive efforts to combat distracted driving and the driving while texting issue. Now, New York is taking penalties a step further.

As of July 26, 2013, the following laws have been in place:

  • A first offense for using electronics while driving is a minimum fine $50 with maximum of penalty of $150.
  • A second offense is a penalty ranging from $50 to $150.
  • After the second offense, a subsequent violation within 18 months is $50 to $400.

Moreover, the governor of New York made an executive order, which increases the DMV points against a motorist that is convicted of using a handheld cellular device while driving. Instead of three points, a violator will now receive five points on his or her license.

However, teen drivers seem to be most susceptible to the dangers of distracted driving. For this reason, new legislation also suspends and revokes the driver’s licenses of novice, inexperienced motorists who text message while behind the wheel. Sources report that the governor is using the new law as a message to young and new drivers that texting while operating a vehicle will not be tolerated.

The law mandates that young motorists who illegally drive and text message be slapped with the same penalties as reckless driving. In other words, a motorist with a restricted driver’s license faces a suspension of 60 days for the first texting offense. Subsequent offenses within six months draw greater revocations.

From the year 2005 to 2011, cellphone-related car crashes increased by 143 percent, according to CBS New York. For this reason, authorities will not stop at targeting those who pose a risk on New York roads.

Texting while driving and reckless driving

Under New York laws, “reckless driving” is driving in a manner that “unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway, or unreasonably endangers users of the public highway.” Reckless driving is considered a misdemeanor in the state. Moreover, the law is fairly subjective, meaning one could easily be found guilty of this crime if he or she is disruptive and hazardous on the road.

If texting while driving leads to reckless driving charges, a person could receive infractions on their license, car insurance increases, a fine and a criminal record. Moreover, a judge has the right to suspend an offender’s license or place a person in jail for the offense.

Therefore, it is best for motorists to clip the habit of using electronics while driving. The consequences of an offense can transform into big penalties, including criminal charges. However, if you face allegations for texting while driving, the first step is to retain legal assistance. As laws evolve and different penalties are put in place, it helps to have legal support by your side.

Karen A. Friedman has represented motorists at safety hearings for over 30 years. Call 212-213-2145 or 845-266-4400 or contact us for a free consultation.