Cell Phone Tickets In New York

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If you are like most people, then chances are good that you have your cell phone with you 24/7. It's a fantastic way to stay in touch with friends, family and even the office. Your cell phone also is extremely convenient in case of an emergency.

Cell phone use has become so common and prevalent that people think nothing of talking or texting while they are behind the wheel. At one time, this practice was legal, but that's not the case anymore.

Today, cell phone tickets in New York are incredibly common. Don't be embarrassed if you got caught texting and driving. Deal with the situation head-on by contacting a cell phone ticket attorney in New York.

Having a legal professional defend your case is more affordable than you think, especially when you consider the consequences of pleading guilty.

Before you plead guilty, pay a fine and deal with having points added to your driving record, consult with an attorney. It may be possible to have the charges against you reduced or dropped.

Cell Phone Use While Driving: What's the Law?

In New York, if you want to talk on the phone while driving, then the law requires that you use a hands-free device. What some drivers don't realize is that this law covers all other electronic devices. This means that you can receive a ticket for using a tablet, a GPS device, a digital camera, an iPod or a laptop while you are behind the wheel.

The law actually is divided into two parts. VTL 1225(c), which relates to the Use of a Mobile Telephone, and VTL 1225(d) for Use of Portable Electronic Devices.

If you get caught using an electronic device while driving, then the officer will cite either one of these laws on the ticket. The (c) in VTL 1225(c) actually stands for cell phone while the (d) in VTL 1225(d) stands for device.

Drivers caught talking on the phone while driving are issued a VTL 1225(c) ticket. Texting or using any other electronic device results in a VTL 1225(d) citation.

How Much Does a Cell Phone Ticket Cost in NY?

Getting a ticket for texting or talking on the phone while driving can be upsetting. However, it's nothing compared to the continued fallout from that single incident.

When calculating how much is a ticket for texting and driving, the most obvious cost is the fine associated with the citation. State law dictates that a person who is convicted of a first offense is fined between $50 and $150.

If that same person receives a second similar citation within 18 months of the first infraction, they may be fined between $50 and $200. A third offense during that same time period may result in a fine of no less than $50 and no more than $400.

Surcharges for Texting or Calling While Driving
Surcharges for Texting or Calling While Driving

Don't forget that any driver who's convicted of this infraction also is subject to a surcharge of $88 or $93. Accordingly, you must account for this extra cost when you're considering whether or not you should simply plead guilty.

Points
Points

Many of the citations that are written by the police result in points being added to the driver's record. The number of points added increases with the seriousness of the infraction.

Because officials consider talking on the phone or texting while driving to be a particularly serious offense, each guilty plea will add five points to the driver's record. This is one of the highest point values that is assessed for a single driving infraction.

If you already have points on your record or if you are looking at a second or third offense for cell phone use while driving, then having another five points added to your record could be devastating.

Keep in mind that each texting and driving conviction that you receive adds another five points to your record. If this happens two or more times during an 18-month period, then you may even be facing the suspension or revocation of your driving privileges.

Can you afford to not get behind the wheel for the next several months or longer? If not, then it's imperative that you work with a qualified attorney to see if the charges against you may be reduced or dropped.

The Driver Responsibility Assessment Fee
The Driver Responsibility Assessment Fee

Any driver who accrues six or more points within a single 18-month period also is subject to the Driver Responsibility Assessment Fee, which also may be called the DRA.

Consider that a conviction for cell phone use while driving adds five points to your record. If you have a speeding or other ticket on your record from six months ago, then you are now eligible for the DRA.

This is a particularly expensive penalty. It costs a flat fee of $300. Added to this is a $75 charge for each point in excess of six.

Your Insurance Rates Will Increase
Your Insurance Rates Will Increase

The law requires that all drivers carry insurance. Periodically, insurance carriers run a check on their clients' driving histories. When a new conviction appears, it usually results in being assessed higher insurance premiums.

Because convictions for using a cell phone while driving are considered serious, they can result in a sizable increase in insurance rates. Studies suggest that some drivers have seen their premiums rise by as much as 20 percent after being convicted of driving while texting.

Keep in mind that you'll have to keep paying those higher rates, possibly for years, until that ticket falls off of your record. This means that this isn't a one-time expense but rather an ongoing cost that may affect your day-to-day living expenses.

Fight a Cell Phone Ticket in New York

When they receive their first ticket for cell phone use or texting while driving, people tend to be shocked at just how much they cost. Between fines, surcharges and increased insurance premiums, it's not long before they've spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

For most people, that's just not in the budget. This means that it's critical to look for an alternative to pleading guilty.

Unfortunately, most people simply plead guilty and accept the consequences. They do this without realizing just how far-reaching those consequences are. When they finally realize that they may have made an error, it's too late to go back.

Before you plead guilty to that ticket, give it some thought. Mark your ticket with a plea of not guilty, and consult with a qualified attorney. In some cases, it is possible to avoid cell phone ticket points as well as fines and surcharges. Even when these penalties cannot be avoided, it may be possible to have them reduced.

In most New York jurisdictions, it is possible for an attorney to make a plea bargain for a lesser charge. These lesser charges often are non-moving violations like disobeying a traffic device or a parking ticket. Offenses like these may only add two points to your driving record and have smaller fines. This means that your insurance isn't likely to increase as much.

Of course, perhaps the best thing about obtaining legal counsel is that you then have the opportunity to relax while a professional takes over for you.

Hire a Traffic Ticket Lawyer to Help

You have options when it comes to fighting a NY cell phone ticket. The first of these is the DIY approach.

If you go this route, you'll plead "not guilty" on the ticket, and the court will set a trial date. You personally appear before the judge with the hope that you can present evidence that will lead the judge to find you not guilty.

This is an incredibly risky proposition. Any ambiguous facts are likely to be found in favor of the officer who wrote the ticket. Plus, too many people say the wrong thing and end up incriminating themselves.

Another approach to fighting a traffic ticket is to have a trial set and then hope that the officer doesn't appear. Drivers mistakenly believe that this will cause the judge to dismiss the case. However, the judge is far more likely to simply reschedule the trial. This means that you're probably just postponing the inevitable conviction.

Other drivers try to file a motion to dismiss. These are highly technical documents that rely on the presence of missing or erroneous information in the ticket. Proving the grounds for a motion to dismiss is virtually impossible for the average person who isn't intimately familiar with the relevant laws.

This leaves you with your last and best option: Hiring an attorney. In many cases, it is possible for a skilled lawyer to negotiate with the court to have the charges against you reduced. This means paying a smaller fine, facing fewer points and maintaining the cost of your car insurance.

Legal representation is more affordable than you think, and considering how severe the penalties can be for a conviction on cell phone use while driving, it's wise to save yourself a lot of time, money and trouble by working with an attorney.

New York Texting & Cell Phone Tickets Facts

The most recent year for which data is available on traffic tickets in New York is 2018. In that year, some 197,593 tickets were written throughout the state for violations of the law against using electronic devices while driving.

That number represents 5.5-percent of all tickets written statewide in that year. Most of these tickets were issued in New York City, which has particularly strict ordinances against the use of cell phones and other devices while behind the wheel. Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Westchester rounded out the top five for the year.

Since most of these tickets were issued in NYC, it follows that the NYPD would be responsible for writing 57-percent of cell phone tickets and 67-percent of device use tickets in that year.

State troopers, on the other hand, wrote just 16-percent of device-use tickets and 18-percent of cell phone tickets in the same year.

Questions About New York Cell Phone & Texting Tickets

Cell phone tickets in New York may be issued for anyone who has their phone or other electronic device in their hand while driving. However, no ticket is likely to be issued if a person is using a hands-free speakerphone instead. In other words, you can talk on the phone as much as you like as long as your hands are not involved.

While it may seem like a car that is stopped at a red light or a stop sign technically is not "in motion," the law doesn't see it that way. An officer may issue a citation for texting or calling while driving even if the vehicle isn't currently moving. Because the vehicle is on the road and someone is behind the wheel, a ticket is likely to be written.

Receiving a ticket for violating the law with regard to cell phone use while driving is a record that sticks with you. In fact, it may be with you for as long as four years. That's because this violation remains on your record until January 1 of the fourth year after your conviction.

As far as points are concerned, these will be added to any subsequent points for a period of 18 months after the offense.

State laws pertaining to the use of cell phones and other electronic devices while driving do not mention the use of headphones. Another law, VTL 375-24-a, instead dictates that no motorist may have two earphones in use at the same time. Anyone ticketed for this offense won't receive extra points but may be fined $150.