What Are the Penalties for Texting and Driving in New York State?

Last Updated on April 11, 2022

If you get a text message in the car, it can be very tempting to answer it. You may think that sending a quick text is harmless, but think again – taking your eyes off the road even for a few seconds can lead to an accident. Over the past decade, cell phone use has lead to a large increase in accidents and unsafe driving behavior. Because of this, New York and many other states have increased restrictions for texting while driving. Here’s what you need to know about texting and driving in New York state and the penalties you may incur.

What Happens If I’m Caught Texting and Driving in New York?

Penalties for Texting and Driving in New YorkThe state of New York takes texting and driving very seriously. It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving. This includes texting as well as emailing, surfing the web, taking photos, and playing games. It is even illegal to make a phone call while driving if you are physically holding the phone.

If you are caught texting and driving, you will receive a traffic ticket and a fine of at least $50. The exact amount of the fine will depend on how many previous offenses you have had. If it is your first offense, the fine will be a maximum of $200. If it is your second offense within 18 months, the fine will be a maximum of $250. Once you have hit three or more offenses within 18 months, the fine can be as high as $450.

Cell Phone Use and Texting While Driving Fines & Fees

ViolationMinimum FineMaximum Fine
First offense$50$200
Second offense (within 18 months)$50$250
Third or subsequent offense (within 18 months)$50$450

If you are ticketed for texting while driving, you will also have as many as five points applied to your license. If you hit 11 points in an 18 month period, you risk having your license suspended or revoked. You can get points on your license for any driving violation, and they can add up quickly if you aren’t careful.

Special Restrictions on Texting While Driving in NY

For certain drivers, texting while driving carries an even higher penalty. Drivers who have a learner’s permit, probationary license, or junior license will experience immediate license suspension if they are caught using their cell phones while driving. This suspension will last for 120 days. If the driver is caught texting and driving again after their suspension has ended, they may have their license revoked for at least one year.

Commercial vehicle drivers may also experience stricter penalties for using their cell phones behind the wheel. These drivers are not allowed to use their cell phones for any reason while driving. Motor carriers may not allow their drivers to text or use their cell phones behind the wheel under any circumstances.

The Dangers of Texting While Driving

To many people, texting and driving, at the same time, seems easy and low-risk. However, any form of distracted driving can lead to an accident – you never know how other drivers will behave or what will happen in the few moments you look down at your screen. If you text while driving, you run the risk of drifting or not reacting fast enough to what’s around you, which can lead to accidents. When you text, you’re also taking at least one hand off the wheel, which means that you’ll have less control of the car. Texting while driving is a particularly big problem among teenagers, who are more likely to develop a false sense of confidence and assume they can safely text while driving. No matter how coordinated you think you are, texting while driving will always put you and others at risk. If you have teenagers who are learning to drive, it’s important to teach them about the dangers of texting while behind the wheel.

Alternatives to Texting While Driving

If you absolutely need to communicate with someone while driving, there are alternatives to texting. If there is someone else in the car with you, you can dictate and have them send the text message for you. Many cars now allow you to make hands-free phone calls as well, which is much safer than sending a text message. However, it’s important to note that both of these things can still be distracting in some situations. You’ll need to use tremendous caution to ensure that you’re still focused on the road.

If you have a bad habit of texting while driving, try putting your phone in the glove box or even in the trunk. This will reduce the temptation to text while driving. If you have a passenger in the car with you, try giving them your phone. They can then handle any incoming texts or calls for you and help you with your goal of staying focused on the road. If you prefer to use your phone while you’re on the go, try another form of transportation, like ridesharing services or public transit.

You should never text while you’re behind the wheel, no matter how safe it feels in the moment. Texting while driving can not only result in serious accidents, but it can also have serious legal consequences in New York state. Fines can be expensive, and having points on your license can make it very difficult to get affordable car insurance. Repeated offenses can lead to the suspension and revocation of your license.

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  1. Thomas A. Griffin says:

    The penalties should be higher. Bigger fines and more points against their licenses. I ride a bike in Watertown, NY and it doesn’t even register in driver’s brains to even put their phones down when they drive near me. They simply don’t care.