Text Messaging and Driving

Our law firm was retained to fight the first known ticket of its kind – illegally driving while text messaging. After researching the issue, we concluded that this practice is not currently illegal under New York law.

On March 6, 2008, our client motorist was operating his car in Manhattan while allegedly using his cell phone to write and transmit a text message. It was at that time a NYC police officer pulled him over and issued him a ticket for using his cell phone illegally.

The motorist then retained our New York traffic law firm and we quickly concluded that the motorist had been incorrectly charged under a statute which only prohibits voice calls without a hands-free device.

The judge at the Traffic Violations Bureau agreed with NY traffic attorney Matthew Weiss and, on May 21, 2008, the case was dismissed.

This decision comes as the New York is contemplating joining New Jersey and Washington states by making it illegal to write, read or send a text message. Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Oyster Bay) and Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn) are sponsoring the bill, and the measure has already been approved by the New York State Senate (S.3195-C). The enactment of such a law will have a large impact upon drivers as a recent Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company survey found that 20% of people admit to texting while driving.

The deaths of five teenagers in the Town of Canandaigua in July 2007 is spurring on this legislation. Tests conducted after the SUV collision with a tractor-trailer showed that the 17-year old driver had been driving inattentively due to apparent text messaging.

While acknowledging the dangerousness of texting and driving, Mr. Weiss stated “We are glad the judge agreed with our interpretation of the traffic law and correctly dismissed this moving violation. While it carries 0 points, this type of traffic ticket can adversely affect a driver’s insurance rates.”

Please note that past results do not guarantee future success.