Tickets for texting while driving have increased 35% between 2013 and 2014 in New York State. The increase has been most significant in Westchester County, where testing infractions rose a full 50% from 2013 to 2014. In Rockland County, the increase was 35% and in Putnam, there were 38% more texting tickets in 2014 than the year before.
The penalties for texting while driving have also been greatly enhanced in the last two years. A driver who is found guilty of a texting infraction faces a $200 fine and more importantly, five points on his or her driver’s license. Eleven points in an eighteen month period results in a suspended license, and if a driver gets 6 points or more in the same period, they can be assessed a “Driver’s Responsibility Assessment” of an additional $300.00 by the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles. A second offense within 18 months of the previous conviction will result in a $250.00 fine. A third violation or subsequent violations after the third will lead to a $450.00 fine.
Youthful drivers beware: the penalties for drivers with a junior license or permit are much more stringent. For a driver under 21 with a junior license, first offense convictions result in a 120 day license or permit suspension. Further, due to new regulations which went into effect in November, 2014, young drivers will face a one year license or permit revocation for a second offense within six months of their license being restored. Enforcement is now enhanced in that police often utilize high profile vehicles which allow them to view the inside of passenger cars to determine if a violator is texting while cradling the phone in his or her lap. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 10% of all drivers under age 20 who were involved in fatal accidents were determined to be distracted when the crash took place. In New York State there was a 143 % increase in smart phone related crashes between 2005 and 2011, during which time the incidence of alcohol related crashes decreased by 18%. In 2011, there were 25,165 fatal and personal injury accidents due to distracted driving; in comparison, there were 4,628 accidents attributed to alcohol.
Other counties around New York that are issuing many more texting infractions include Ontario County, with a huge 71 percent increase from the previous year; Broome County, with a 34% increase from 2013; Chemung County, with a 14% increase; Dutchess County, a 10% increase; Tompkins County, a 9 % increase; Monroe County, 8% increase, and Erie County, up 7% in 2014 from 2013.
If you or a family member are charged with a DWI, chemical test refusal or traffic violation, please contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel with offices in White Plains, the Bronx and Peekskill for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options. We can be reached online or toll free at (914) 428-7386.