Report Reveals Inconsistent Cellphone Ticket Enforcement

In a study conducted by the Gannett Newspapers and reported in the Journal News on May 2, 2011, it was found that traffic tickets issued for cell phone violations varied substantially by county. Additionally, the study showed that violations for texting while driving were a small percentage of the overall cell phone tickets handed out–less than 1% of the total tickets. Specifically, Department of Motor Vehicles (NYSDMV) records indicate that there were 332,000 cell phone infractions in 2010, compared with only 3,200 texting while driving tickets.

One reason for the small percentage of texting while driving tickets issued is that the texting prohibition just went in effect in 2010, and it is difficult to enforce with motorists attempting to shield the texting by keeping their phones out of sight of the police officer. Further, texting while driving is still a “secondary violation”, meaning that unless an officer can prove another traffic infraction, such as speeding, disregarding a traffic control device or an unsafe lane change, he is not permitted to give the ticket. New York along with only three other states has the secondary violation texting while driving ban, while 27 states make this a primary violation, in which the officer does not need any other reason to stop the vehicle.

Half of the texting while driving tickets were issued in New York City. Westchester County issued 100 texting while driving tickets in 2010, with 126 in Nassau County, while there were only 21 issued in Rockland County and 13 in Putnam County. Cell phone tickets dropped 15 % over the last 4 years. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2009 there were 5,474 fatalities attributed to distracted driving, which comprised 16 % of all fatal accidents. This was an increase of 6% in distracted driving fatalities since 2005.


For a free consultation to discuss your traffic infraction or a criminal matter, contact the Westchester County Traffic Ticket Lawyers online or toll free at 888-761-7633.