Last October, I was the first to report in my blog Confessions Of A Traffic Lawyer that New York’s new traffic law prohibiting texting and driving had “a major loophole”. Particularly, I explained that the original law, as passed, meant that a driver must commit a second, distinct traffic violation in order to be charged and found guilty of illegally driving and text messaging (or using any other electronic device).
My critique was that the law allowed drivers to legally text and drive (despite the obvious dangers) as long as they did not otherwise break a traffic offense, and I quipped that “[s]omeone was asleep at the wheel when they approved this statute (pun intended).”
As a New York traffic lawyer whose law firm fights 1,000s of traffic tickets every year, it was easy for me to confirm the ineffectiveness of the original law. Since the law went into effect on November 1, 2009, we haven’t seen one ticket issued for violating this law. That includes not only our clients but also prospective clients inquiring about whether they should fight a New York traffic ticket.
Now, four months later, Gov. David Paterson is seeking to correct the mis-guided original efforts of Albany’s dysfunctional Legislature by introducing a law to remove the loophole. The goal is to make the law effective by allowing cops to issue traffic tickets for using a portable electronic device without first having to observe another violation of the traffic laws.
Surprisingly, the new proposed new law does not seek to raise the $150 fine for committing such a traffic violation.