Since 2012, 18% of all fatal crashes nationally involved a common cause: distracted driving. Across the country, various initiatives from state and local agencies are drafting new legislation to combat this issue and New York State is no exception. New York has one of the toughest distracted driving laws in the country. Violations for illegally using your cell phone or electronic device carry 5 points, more than any other moving violation (except speeding 21+).
Despite this tough law, Nassau County has decided to make it even more onerous. Last month, the Nassau County Traffic and Parking Violations Agency (TPVA), located at 16 Cooper Street, in Hempstead, rolled out a pilot program that outlines new rules for cell phone and electronic device tickets issued in Nassau County. The Program, called the Distracted Driver Education Program, targets unsafe cell phone and portable electronic device use while driving by making it much harder to plea these charges down.
Specifically, the Program adds a type of probationary period for offenders as a condition to receive a plea bargain. There are no classes (despite the program’s name) rather the “education” is through monitoring of your device while you drive for 120 days to ensure that you are no longer illegally using it. The Program also requires the motorist or their NY traffic lawyer to appear in court twice.
Below are the details.
Per the rules of the Program, all violators can plead guilty to the lesser charge of tailgating, a 4 point violation, and pay $283 in fines. This fine is due on the date of disposition, meaning you have no grace period for payment. You also must execute a special affidavit in which, among other things, you waive your rights to fight the ticket or appeal a conviction.
The case adjourns for 120 days. Meanwhile, within 10 days, the violator must, at their own expense, register to have a “cell control” device installed in their vehicle which will monitor the use of any electronic devices by the operator while driving. The device is the size of an EZ pass and costs about $125.
You or your NY traffic lawyer return to court after the 120-day period. This monitoring device generates a report, for presentation on the adjourned court date. If the report is “clean”, then the court will change your guilty plea from tailgating to a 0-point parking ticket. As you probably guessed, the court keeps the $283 that you previously paid as the parking ticket fine. If you the report is not clean, you fail to show up or you fail to produce the report, then the 4-point conviction remains on your record. If do not install the cell control device, the original 5-point ticket will end up on your record).
The intent of Nassau County’s new program is good as, through monitoring and a reward, it attempts to break a bad and dangerous habit. Of course, for motorists who want or need to participate in the Program, it is inconvenient and intrusive.
The bottom line, for the safety of yourself and others, put those devices away while driving! It is a rare text for which is worth risking your safety. Plus, at least in Nassau County (do not be surprised if other counties follow Nassau County’s lead), such an offense will be treated very seriously.
Nassau County’s Distracted Driver Education Program forms can be downloaded here. For free advice regarding fighting any traffic ticket issued anywhere in New York State, contact us.