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Can I Get Arrested for Texting While Driving?

It's a common scenario: you're rushing to work, school, or home, and your phone buzzes with a text message. In the heat of the moment, it can seem harmless to quickly glance at the screen or type a short response. However, distracted driving is a serious issue and has been the cause of numerous accidents, injuries, and even fatalities. To combat this, New York State has implemented stringent laws against texting while driving.

Understanding New York State Distracted Driving Laws

In New York, Section 1225-D of the Vehicle and Traffic Law prohibits the use of portable electronic devices while driving. This includes not only texting but also activities such as emailing, web browsing, playing games, and taking or viewing pictures. The law applies regardless of whether the vehicle is in motion or stopped at a traffic signal.

Here are key points from the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law regarding the use of mobile devices while driving:

  • Using a handheld mobile telephone: Under New York State law, using a handheld mobile phone includes holding a mobile phone and talking, taking pictures, playing games, or using the device's features. It's important to note that even simply holding your mobile phone can be considered a violation.
  • Texting or sending an email: This refers to composing, sending, reading, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving, or retrieving electronic data such as email, text messages, or web pages.
  • Viewing, taking, or transmitting images: This includes using your device to view, take, or transmit images.

Penalties for Texting While Driving in NY

Despite being classified as a traffic violation rather than a crime, a texting-while-driving offense in New York should not be taken lightly. It's more than a mere traffic ticket.

If found guilty of texting while driving in New York, the penalties can be severe. They are designed to deter drivers from engaging in distracted driving practices, with the goal of making the roads safer for everyone. The exact penalties depend on the driver's previous record, but they generally start with fines and points on your driver's license.

Penalties include:

  • First offense: For a first conviction, the driver can receive a fine of $50 to $200. In addition, there will be 5 points added to their driving record.
  • Second offense: If the driver is found guilty of texting while driving within 18 months of the first offense, the fine can increase to $250.
  • Third and subsequent offenses: For the third and subsequent offenses within 18 months, the fine can rise to as high as $450.

It's important to note that these penalties can significantly impact your life. The points on your driving record can lead to higher insurance rates, and accumulating 11 points within an 18-month period can result in the suspension of your driver's license. Moreover, these penalties can be even more stringent if the offense occurs in a school zone or involves a commercial driver's license holder.

How We Can Help

A seasoned criminal defense lawyer can play a critical role in your defense against texting while driving charge. They understand the nuances of the law and can devise an effective strategy to either reduce the charges or have them dismissed entirely. They can scrutinize the circumstances of your arrest, evaluating whether the law enforcement officer had a valid reason to stop you and whether they followed correct protocols during the process. If any irregularities are found, your lawyer can argue for the dismissal of charges based on the violation of your rights.

Your attorney can also help negotiate plea bargains with the prosecution. These can oftentimes result in reduced penalties or alternative sentencing options which can spare you from a conviction on your driving record. Moreover, they are equipped to represent you in court if your case proceeds to a trial. They can effectively present your defense and counter the prosecution's arguments, aiming for the most favorable outcome possible.

At Collins Gann McCloskey & Barry PLLC, we understand the gravity of the penalties associated with texting while driving and the impact they could have on your life. Our team of experienced criminal defense lawyers is ready to provide you with the best legal advice and strategies to navigate these allegations. We'll thoroughly examine your case, scrutinize the evidence, and strive to protect your rights at every step of the legal process.

Although it's crucial to understand the laws and the seriousness of texting while driving, it's equally essential to know that if you're charged, you're not alone. With our wealth of experience and keen focus on delivering personalized service, we will work tirelessly to secure the best possible outcome for you. Remember, every situation is unique, and a dedicated legal advisor can make a significant difference in your case.

Contact us online or call us at (516) 218-5131 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced defense attorneys.