In New York, drivers who talk on their cell phone can face a fine of $100 if they are not using a hands-free device. This fine is intended to deter people from driving while distracted. It’s a very important goal since a driver who uses a cell phone is significantly more likely to be involved in a car wreck.
Unfortunately, the fine doesn’t do enough to deter drivers from using their phones. Our Queens injury attorneys know that drivers continue to text or talk and drive even when they are aware the behavior is dangerous and illegal. To try to reduce this bad behavior and to give drivers more incentive to obey cell-phone bans, lawmakers have imposed some tougher distracted driving penalties in the new state budget.
Tougher Laws Crack Down on Talking Drivers
CBS New York recently reported on the tougher texting and driving laws, which were touted by State Senator Charles Fuschillo. The new penalties include the following:
- A driver talking on his cell phone without a hands free device will now face a $150 penalty rather than a $100 penalty for a first offense.
- A driver who commits a second offense within eighteen months of the first offense will now face a $200 maximum fine.
- A driver who commits three or more offenses within eighteen months will now face a $400 maximum fine.
Under both the current law and the new regulatory system, offenders get three points on their drivers’ license if they are caught texting and driving. Points on a license can result in higher insurance premiums and could result in a driver being potentially disqualified from certain jobs for which a clean driving record is a prerequisite. If a driver gets too many points in a limited period of time, that driver might even find that his license is suspended.
The hope is that the larger fines, coupled with the points and resulting higher insurance premiums, will actually work to stop people from using their cell phones behind the wheel.
The new laws also take an especially tough stance towards commercial drivers who are distracted by cell phones and wireless devices. The new regulations prohibit commercial drivers from talking on non-hands free phones while at a light or stopped in a traffic jam. Drivers are also prohibited from using hand-held electronic devices.
A commercial driver who violates distracted driving laws that exist on either the state level or that exist on the local level can have his or her commercial drivers’ license suspended. Tough penalties are necessary for commercial drivers because very serious accidents can result if a truck or driver of a passenger vehicle is involved in a crash. The larger size of the vehicle coupled with the fact that there might be passengers on board mean that drivers have to be extra careful to avoid causing harm.
Federal law also prohibits commercial drivers from using a hand-held cell phone or text messaging behind the wheel.
Hopefully, with new regulations, fewer drivers will choose to use their cell phones and fewer people will be hurt or even killed in a distracted driving crash.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations to those who have been injured in a cell phone accident. Call 1-877-313-7673.
New York Teens at High Risk of Traffic Accidents this Spring, New York Injury Lawyer Blog, March 8, 2013
Devoting April to Ending Distracted Driving Habits, New York Injury Lawyer Blog, March 31, 2013