New York May Strengthen Law Against Texting Drivers

In November of 2009, Governor David Paterson signed into law a ban of texting while driving. However, the legislation was quickly criticized by highway safety organizations and local New York state law enforcement officials as it made texting while driving a “secondary offense.” Inotherwords, a motorist who violated the law could only be stopped by the police if they were also violating another traffic regulation, such as speeding, following too closely or disregarding a traffic control device.

Recognizing quickly that the new law had no “teeth”, Governor Paterson introduced a modified statute in February of this year to make the texting ban a primary offense, by which the police could more easily enforce the law. To date, the new texting legislation had been stalled, but recently, legislation passed the New York State Assembly, and according to a report by Joseph Spector in the Journal News on July 7, 2010, the law could possibly pass the New York State Senate as early as next week. The minimum fine for a violation of the present law is $150.00.

The original impetus for the statute came about from the tragic deaths of several teen drivers who were driving while texting, including five teen age girls from Monroe County who died in June of 2007. In that accident, police investigators determined through phone records that the driver was in the process of texting when her vehicle struck a tractor trailer. According to the Governors Highway Association, 30 states have banned texting while driving, but only New York, Iowa, Nebraska and Virginia have the violation as a secondary offense.

We will follow developments on the texting legislation and report on any modifications of the law in the near future after the New York State Senate votes on the statute.

If you or a loved one is charged with a crime or traffic infraction, contact the Westchester County Traffic Lawyers at the Law Office Of Mark A. Siesel online or toll free at (914) 428-7386 for a free consultation to discuss the charges against you and your legal options.