Moving Violations: Using Your Cell Phone Behind The Wheel


Nowadays , it seems like everyone is attached at the hip to their cell phones. Between phone calls, text messages and Instagram, we can’t help but whip out those phones whenever we get the opportunity. But remember NYers, there’s definitely a time and place for you to use your phone and it should never be behind the wheel! Not only is it absolutely dangerous, using your phone while driving can also do damage to your pockets.

What’s the law?

Since May 31, 2013, NY state has enacted some of the harshest laws prohibiting cell phone use behind the wheel and is now as serious as a reckless driving misdemeanor or a  passing school bus violation. NY state law states that “Except as otherwise provided in this section, no person shall operate a motor vehicle while using any portable electronic device while such vehicle is in motion.”  An officer may stop you if you are observed “operating” or using  a handheld device while your vehicle is in motion.”Using” is defined liberally so watch out for what you can or can’t do:

You Can

  • Operate a cell phone while a vehicle is parked and not in motion.
  • Take a call with a hands free device.

You Can’t

  • Hold a cell phone at or near your ear while taking or listening to a call when your car is in motion
  • Hold a cell phone to dial a number, text or do any other function while the vehicle is in motion.


Violation Penalties

Cell phone violations (which means talking without a hands-free set or texting while driving)  carry a penalty of 5 points on your license. Remember if you get If you get 11 points in an 18-month period, your driver license may be suspended. In addition, receiving a cell phone moving violation can lead to an increase in your Insurance premiums and some pretty hefty fines that scale with each offense:

1st offense: $50 to $200

2nd offense committed within 18 months: $50 to $250

3rd or subsequent offense committed within 18 months:  $50 to $450

So remember new yorkers, drive safely, be smart and never use your phone behind the wheel!