Distracted driving

Distracted driving

We rely on our cell phones for several reasons: to communicate with friends and family, go shopping, get directions and even snap a selfie for posterity. It has gotten to the point where we reach for the phone automatically whenever it rings, or a text message alert comes through, even when the safety of doing so is questionable.

New York State has strict laws when it comes to using cell phones and other handheld electronic devices while driving. Evidence suggests that taking your eyes off the road for two seconds or longer will double the risk of an accident. According to New York State DMV statistics there was a 143% increase in crashes related to cell phone use between 2005 and 2011. Therefore, if you do any of the following while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, you face significant penalties.

  • Talking on a handheld cell phone
  • Texting
  • Surfing the net
  • Reading, composing and sending email
  • Taking, looking at, or sending photos
  • Initiating a call without  using a Bluetooth headset
  • Playing games

In June 2013, New York became even tougher on those who text and drive by changing the offense to a five-point violation. This means that using a mobile device while operating a motor vehicle can result in the same penalties for reckless driving. If you receive eleven points over the course of 18 months, then your license may be suspended, which is bad news if you are a commercial vehicle operator and rely on that license to make a living.

Other potential penalties include:

  • A fine of anywhere between $50 and $450, with a surcharge of up to $93.
  • Loss of a Learner’s Permit or a Junior License for up to six months, depending on the existence of a previous record

In summary, if you drive and use a portable electronic device for any reason except to call 911 or contact emergency services personnel, then you may be on your way to paying higher insurance premiums and even losing your license.

What to do if you receive a cell phone ticket

If a New York police officer sees you holding a mobile phone to your ear or handling a portable electronic device while driving, he or she is going to presume that you are breaking the law and issue you a ticket. It may not even matter if you had a justifiable reason for using the device: the situation will likely have to be resolved in a courtroom, where your case can be presented to a judge.

If you are issued a cell phone ticket, then do not hesitate to contact a New York defense attorney immediately. Many people regard “getting a ticket” as a minor matter that goes away as soon as the fine is paid. The reality is that it can be a stepping stone to more serious matters, such as losing your license and even a criminal record if you drive while your license is suspended or revoked.

Your attorney will review your case and put forth circumstances to support your defense. Were you making a legally permissible emergency call? Was your phone attached to the vehicle surface and not in your hand when the police stopped you? Although no outcome is guaranteed, a New York City defense attorney is one of your best chances of preventing a cell phone ticket from complicating your future. Contact the Law Offices of Julie Rendelman, PLLC if you have received a ticket for using your phone while driving or for any other related matter. Call Ms. Rendelman at 212-951-1232 to schedule your free consultation and visit www.RendelmanLaw.com to learn about Ms. Rendelman’s extensive 20 years of experience.