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Distracted driving laws in New York: everything you need to know

Regulations against cell phone use while driving vary dramatically from state to state. New York has some of the most extensive prohibitions and most severe penalties for such offenses. Whether you’re a New York resident or you’re just visiting, it is your responsibility to understand—and adhere to—the laws surrounding distracted driving in this state.

While many states have implemented a ban on texting while driving, New York has doubled down on distracted driving by prohibiting a wide variety of device-related activities.

If you’re driving, you can’t:

  • Talk on a cell phone while holding it in your hand
  • View, compose or transmit any messages, images or websites
  • Play games

In a nutshell, if you’re holding and operating an electronic device while your vehicle is moving, you’re in violation of traffic law.

You can, however, do any of the following while driving:

  • Talk on a cell phone using hands-free technology
  • Use a handheld device if it is attached to the vehicle—this includes GPS
  • Contact emergency services


As mentioned above, New York’s penalties for breaking any of these rules are stiff. For any distracted driving offense, you get five points on your driving record. Under New York law, if you accrue 11 points within a year and a half, your driver’s license will be suspended. In addition, you can face the following fines:

  • First offense: $50 to $200
  • Second offense: up to $250
  • Third offense: up to $450

Penalties are more severe still if you have a learner’s permit, probationary license or any type of junior license (for drivers ages 16 and 17) and include mandatory license suspension.

It’s always good practice to stay focused on the road whenever you’re behind the wheel. Keeping your cell phone out of the way while driving can help keep you safe and spare you from a lot of unnecessary consequences.

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Hall, Ricketts, Schuller & Gurbacki, P.C.
471 Main Street
East Aurora, NY 14052

Phone: 716-243-3515
Fax: 716-652-2058
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