Effective Saturday, November 8, 2014, the penalties and fines for tickets for illegally using a cell phone and texting-while-driving will increase. The new law increases the maximum fines for texting and talking while driving. The maximum fine for a first offense will increase from $150 to $200. For a second offense — committed within 18 months of the previous offense — fines will increase from $200 to $250. A third violation or subsequent violations committed within 18 months will increase from $400 to $450.
For young drivers under 21 with junior licenses, a first conviction for texting or talking while driving will now result in a 120-day license or permit suspension. Young drivers will also face a one-year license or permit revocation for a second violation within six months of their license’s or permit’s restoration.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has been consistently pushing for laws to punish this dangerous behavior raising the penalty for such an offense from 0 to 5 points. Drivers who receive 11 points within an 18-month period can be suspended. Cuomo said, “Driving habits are developed early, and we are sending a message that texting while driving is unsafe, unacceptable and downright dangerous. There have been far too many avoidable tragedies due to texting while driving, and with these new penalties, we are seeking to change the behavior of young drivers now, and make New York’s roadways safer for all.”
The number of texting tickets jumped 83% between 2012 and 2013, to nearly 56,000. As of July, 2014, 19,291 tickets were issued to drivers outside of New York City for texting while driving, compared to 23,808 tickets for all of last year.