Texting Tickets and Penalties, NYS VTL § 1225-d

A texting ticket is a serious violation and can have major consequences in terms of money and points and for good reason - a distracted driver can kill you! So, if you are issued a texting ticket, it is important to handle this ticket the right way. Lets first consider what the law says constitutes Use Of Portable Electronic Devices, New York State VTL § 1225-d.

The Law

The law is quite simple. Commercial drivers are held to a higher standard, but are also bound by the Use Of Portable Electronic Devices Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL § 1225-d). Non-commercial drivers cannot use a portable electronic device while operating a vehicle. What that means is that the average driver cannot use a portable electronic device while driving a moving car.

The only exception to this law is when a person is using his or her electronic device in an emergency situation like communicating with the fire department, hospital, or 911. There are also exceptions for persons who use an electronic device while in the performance of their official duties (i.e. police officer).

Definitions to Keep in Mind

"Portable Electronic Device" includes a cell phone, PDA, handheld device with data access, laptop, pager, broadband communication device, device with two-way messaging, electronic game, computing device, or any other electronic device that has the capability to input, write, send, receive, or read text.

"Using" a cell phone: means holding an electronic device and

  1. looking at, taking or sending images
  2. playing games or
  3. writing, reading, sending, accessing/retrieving, browsing, transmitting, or saving electronic data like e-mail, text messages, or webpages
Monetary Penalties

Fines have increased over the years. For example, violations committed between July 26, 2013 and October 31, 2014 were:

  • First offense, fine ranges from $50 to $150
  • Second offense within 18 months, fine ranges from $50 to $200
  • Third offense within 18 months, fine ranges from $50 to $400
  • Town and village surcharges are $93 and all other court surcharges are $88.

Currently, fines for violations committed on or after November 1, 2014 are:

  • First offense, fine ranges from $50 to $200
  • Second offense within 18 months, fine ranges from $50 to $250
  • Third offense within 18 months, fine ranges from $50 to $450
  • Town and village surcharges are $93 and all other court surcharges are $88.

Plus, it can trigger a driver responsibility assessment fee if driver already has points on his or her driving record. It can also cause major car insurance premium increases over the course of years, which translates into major money.

Point Penalties

Conviction of a texting violation currently carries 5 points. However, violations committed between October 5, 2011 and May 31, 2013 carry 3 points.

Special Penalties for New and Probationary Drivers

A person who holds a learner's permit or a probationary license after July 26, 2013 is subject to a 60 day suspension for a cell phone conviction. A second offense within six months carries another 60 day suspension for a junior license holder. A probationary license holder is subject to a six month suspension.

Currently, however, drivers 18 years and younger or probationary drivers face a 120 suspension. A second offense committee will result in a one year revocation for a learner permit holder, probationary driver, and Class DJ or MJ driver license holder.

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