You may not use Waze or GPS while driving in New York if you are holding the device while in motion. If the device is mounted on a dashboard or placed in your cup holder, then you are not violating the law. Of course, if you pick up the device at any time, then your use becomes illegal.
VTL 1225-d(2) defines a “Portable electronic device” broadly as “any hand-held mobile telephone, as defined by subdivision one of section twelve hundred twenty-five-c of this article, personal digital assistant (PDA), handheld device with mobile data access, laptop computer, pager, broadband personal communication device, two-way messaging device, electronic game, or portable computing device.
More importantly, “use” means holding a portable electronic device “while viewing, taking or transmitting images, playing games, or composing, sending, reading, viewing, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving or retrieving e-mail, text messages, or other electronic data.” Using Waze or GPS requires a driver to view images, among other things. Thus, a driver holding a device while using Waze or GPS has violated VTL 1225-d.
If you have a passenger, then let him or her hold the device. If you’re alone, then you should not hold the device unless you pull over to a parked position (not stopped in traffic). While this may sound cumbersome, it is better than the alternative (getting a 5-point VTL 1225-d ticket).