New York's distracted driving laws generally prohibit all drivers from text messaging and talking on a handheld phone while driving. This article discusses the specifics of what the laws prohibit and the costs of a texting or cell phone ticket.
New York has two separate distracted driving laws: one that applies to talking on a cell phone and another that prohibits texting and other electronic device use.
For all New York motorists, it's illegal to operate a vehicle that's in motion while using any portable electronic device. And for commercial drivers, the portable device use restriction also applies when the vehicle is temporarily stopped for things such as traffic, stop signs, and red lights. (N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 1225-d.)
Portable device use. A motorist is deemed to be "using" a portable electronic device if:
Motorists who are caught holding a portable electronic device in a "conspicuous manner" are presumed to have been using the device. But motorists are allowed to present evidence to prove otherwise.
New York law prohibits all drivers from engaging in a call with a handheld phone while driving a vehicle that's in motion. And for commercial drivers, the handheld cell phone ban also applies when the vehicle is temporarily stopped for reasons like traffic, stop signs, and red lights. (N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 1225-c.)
Engaging in a call. For purposes of the cell phone law, "engaging in a call" means talking into or listening to a handheld mobile phone. Drivers who are caught holding a phone in immediate proximity to their ear are presumed to have been engaged in a call. However, the law allows drivers to present evidence to establish that—despite having the phone close to their ear—they were not engaged in a phone call.
Exceptions. New York's cell phone ban doesn't apply to:
Cell phone and texting violations carry a $50 to $200 fine for a first offense, a $50 to $250 fine for a second offense within 18 months, and a $50 to $450 fine for a third or subsequent offense within 18 months. A cell phone or texting ticket will also add five points to the motorist's driving record.