Note: The texting an driving law was changed on July 12, 2011. For information on the new law, go to “Texting And Driving In New York (Finally) Made Illegal“.
As of November 1st, 2009, New York motorists will no longer be able to read, write or send text messages while driving. Driving and playing games on your phone or other device is also prohibited. Finding that text messaging is an unsafe distraction to drivers, the New York Legislature enacted Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1225-D imposing a $150.00 upon those who text and drive.
Section 1225-D will not apply if you are using your phone for a medical, fire or police emergency. Police officers, peace officers, firemen and authorized emergency vehicle operators are exempt from the law.
Under Section 1225-D, there is a rebuttable presumption that a person holding such a device in a conspicuous manner while operating a motor vehicle was using it in violation of the statute. This presumption will make it harder for motorists to defend themselves from 1225-D traffic tickets.
One solution for motorists who cannot wait to read their tweets is to download a free Blackberry application called DriveSafe.ly which will automatically broadcast your incoming text messages and emails.
The actual law read as follows:
S 1225-D. USE OF PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICES.
1. EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE PROVIDED IN THIS SECTION, NO PERSON SHALL OPERATE A MOTOR VEHICLE
WHILE USING ANY PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE WHILE SUCH VEHICLE IS IN MOTION.
2. FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, THE FOLLOWING TERMS SHALL HAVE THE FOLLOWING MEANINGS:
(A) “PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE” SHALL MEAN 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, BROAD-BAND PERSONAL COMMUNICATION DEVICE, TWO-WAY MESSAGING DEVICE, ELECTRONIC GAME, OR PORTABLE COMPUTING DEVICE.
(B) “USING” SHALL MEAN 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.
3. SUBDIVISION ONE OF THIS SECTION SHALL NOT APPLY TO (A) THE USE OF A PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF COMMUNICATING WITH ANY OF THE FOLLOWING REGARDING AN EMERGENCY SITUATION: AN
EMERGENCY RESPONSE OPERATOR; A HOSPITAL; A PHYSICIAN’S OFFICE OR HEALTH CLINIC; AN AMBULANCE COMPANY OR CORPS; A FIRE DEPARTMENT, DISTRICT OR COMPANY; OR A POLICE DEPARTMENT, (B) ANY OF THE FOLLOWING PERSONS WHILE IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR OFFICIAL DUTIES: A POLICE OFFICER OR PEACE OFFICER; A MEMBER OF A FIRE DEPARTMENT, DISTRICT OR COMPANY; OR THE OPERATOR OF AN AUTHORIZED EMERGENCY VEHICLE AS DEFINED IN SECTION ONE HUNDRED ON OF THIS CHAPTER.
4. A PERSON WHO HOLDS A PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE IN A CONSPICUOUS MANNER WHILE OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE IS PRESUMED TO BE USING SUCH DEVICE. THE PRESUMPTION ESTABLISHED BY THIS SUBDIVISION IS REBUTTABLE
BY EVIDENCE SHOWING THAT THE OPERATOR WAS NOT USING THE DEVICE WITHIN THE MEANING OF THIS SECTION.
5. THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION SHALL NOT BE CONSTRUED AS AUTHORIZING THE SEIZURE OR FORFEITURE OF A PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE, UNLESS OTHERWISE PROVIDED BY LAW.
6. A VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE A TRAFFIC INFRACTION AND SHALL BE PUNISHABLE BY A FINE OF NOT MORE THAN ONE HUNDRED FIFTY DOLLARS, PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THAT A SUMMONS FOR OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE IN VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION SHALL ONLY BE ISSUED WHEN THERE IS REASONABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE THAT THE PERSON OPERATING SUCH MOTOR VEHICLE HAS COMMITTED A VIOLATION OF THE LAWS OF THIS STATE OTHER THAN A VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION.