Cell Phones and Texting: Distracted Driving Laws in New York

New York defines distracted driving as something that draws the driver’s attention away from the road. When this occurs, the driver is no longer able to operate the vehicle in a safe or defensive manner. Distracted driving can be external, internal, or personal. In the state of New York, you cannot use a handheld cell phone or electronic device while you drive.

Illegal activity with portable electronics

  • Playing Games
  • Transmitting, taking, or viewing images
  • Writing, retrieving, or saving, electronic data, including text messages, webpages, or e-mails
  • Talking on a handheld cell phone

The only exception to talking on a handheld cell phone is in the case of an emergency, when you dial 911. If you are caught violating these laws, you are liable to get a ticket with a fine attached and points on your license. Eventually, if you receive too many points, your license may be suspended. Too many points is defined as 11 points over an 18 month period of time.

Fines for drivers with a regular license

  • First offense is $50 to $200
  • Second offense in 18 months is $50 to $250
  • Third offense in 18 months is $50 to $450
  • Five points on your driver’s license
  • Surcharges may be added to these fines, which can add up to $93

Fines for junior drivers or class DJ or MJ driver license or Permit

  • First conviction for texting or cell phone usage will result in the driver’s license being suspended for 120 days

  • Second conviction within six months will result in license revocation for one year or a revocation for one year of Class DJ, MJ, or permit

The State of New York has strict and specific laws when it comes to cell phone usage while driving, including making calls and texting. It is important to take note of these as getting too many citations in a short amount of time can result in a suspension of your license. Furthermore, the fines can add up very quickly.

Texting and driving, along with making phone calls, count as distracted driving in New York. If you need to use your cell phone while you are on the road, pull over to a safe area on the side of the road, make your phone call, hang up, and then go about your normal business. It is safer for you and the drivers around you if you do not make calls or text and drive.


The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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