New York considering increased distracted driving penalties

Distracted driving continues to be the focus of lawmakers across the country, and New York legislators are no exception. In March 2013, New York representatives proposed several pieces of legislation targeting distracted driving.

Current New York distracted driving laws

New York's current laws prohibit several forms of distracted driving. Drivers who use hand-held cell phones while driving face a $100 fine and three points on their driving records for a first offense. Those who send text messages while driving in New York could be fined $150 and earn three points on their driving records. Additionally, the state prohibits taxi cab drivers from using cell phones at all while driving.

Proposed changes to distracted driving laws

A number of bills are before the New York legislature dealing with distracted driving. Lawmakers want to increase the fines associated with distracted driving, as well as crack down on those with repeat offenses. One bill would increase the fine for a first ticket for speaking on a cell phone while driving without using hands-free technology to $150, similar to the fine for texting while driving. The second offense within 18 months would cost a driver $200 and a third would result in a $400 fine.

Another bill would ban all cell phone use while driving, except for calling for emergency assistance - drivers would not even be able to use hands-free devices if this bill passed. New York is so far the only state to consider the total ban on cell phone use while driving that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommended in 2011.

A third proposed piece of legislation would prohibit vehicles from having video displays in the front of the vehicle that show "prerecorded programming" for business or entertainment purposes. Navigation devices would be exempted from the ban. Another bill under consideration would amend the current definition of "using" a cell phone while driving to include dialing the phone.

Other bills would require police officers to record if drivers were using cell phones at the time of motor vehicle accidents when they file auto accident reports and create criminal penalties for drivers who kill or injure another person when using a cell phone while driving.

Speak with a lawyer

Lawmakers are cracking down on distracted driving, as the numerous proposed bills demonstrate. Many drivers could easily find themselves facing tickets and steep fines, in addition to any penalties that result from accumulating points on driving records. If you have received a traffic ticket, seek the assistance of a skilled traffic ticket attorney who can help you navigate the court system and contest the ticket.