Cellphones and Driving

New York State has amended its Vehicle and Traffic (VAT) law effective, February 16, 2011, to impose two driver penalty points in addition to a fine of $100 for violations of using a cell phone while driving as well as using portable electronic devices while driving. Section 1225-c and Section 1225-d are the relevant VAT provisions. The statutes are also available in New York Vehicle and Traffic Law by James M. Rose (Call #KFN5470 .R67 1992) on reserve at Brooklyn Law School Library’s circulation desk.

In 2001, New York became the first state in the nation to ban hand-held phone use while driving. Using a hands-free device remains legal. The statutory change brings the hand-held cell phone law in line with the texting-while-driving law, which since 2009 has imposed a two-point penalty and a fine of $150. According to an article from Reuters, in 2009 there were 342,564 tickets issued in New York for cell phone violations.

Those interested in comparing state laws on the prohibition of using cellular phones while driving can look at West’s 50 State Statutory Surveys (password required). The web page of the Governors Highway Safety Association also has a chart outlining all state cell phone and text messaging laws. An excerpt from West’s 50 state survey showing complete prohibitions, learner’s permit prohibions, school bus and miscellaneous prohibitions for the tri-state region is reproduced here.