In N.Y., texting a primary offense

governor andrew cuomo signs distracted driving legislationNew York means business with violators of its texting and driving law: The governor signed legislation giving primary enforcement status to the offense.

That means law officers can stop and cite offenders of the state’s electronic distracted driving laws. Handheld cell phone use already carries primary enforcement status in New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo also said he would order the DMV to carry out his plan to assess a third point against the drivers licenses of texting and handheld cell phone violators.

“It’s plain and simple: Distracted driving leads to tragedies that have affected families all across New York,” Cuomo said while signing the bill in Manhattan on July 12. “This new law will help ensure that drivers keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.”

The Assembly and Senate on June 14 approved the texting plan, sponsored by Sen. Carl Marcellino, R-Long Island, and Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, D-Nassau County. The law resulting from bills S5643 and A8106 did not increase penalties for violators — just increased the chances of their being pulled over and cited. The fine for violations remains at $150.

The governor’s plan for the third point did not clear the legislative, so he’s doing it administratively, via state regulations. New Yorkers who text and drive became subject to 2-point penalties earlier this year. That rule change brought handheld cell phone violations in line with penalties under the state’s newer (2009) text messaging law.

Marcellino said at the texting-bill signing, “With this new legislation, New York State driving laws have finally caught up with today’s technology.”

Weisenberg added, “As a former police officer, I’ve seen the devastation caused by distracted drivers. Today, we are giving law enforcement the tools they need to keep our roads safe and prevent future accidents.

Read the New York distracted driving news page


  1. I understand is why can’t you use a regular bluetooth or head-set, you are not holding the phone in your hand nor the head-set or bluetooth. I think that this law was not only made to prevent people from using their cellphones but also to make more money for the state since according to officials we are in deficit.

  2. Al Cinamon says:

    If NY State means business, why doesn’t it ban “talking” on a cell phone while driving instead of just “holding” a phone? According to every survey ever done, the conversation is the distraction. And if holding a phone is such a distraction, why doesn’t the state ban holding a cup of coffee or a pencil or a lipstick?

    Furthermore, making texting a primary offense will just cause drivers to keep the device out of sight. Instead of holding the device at the top of the wheel, they will not place it i their laps causing a greater danger on the roads.

    It’s all phony baloney designed to fool the motoring public and maybe raise some revenue whenever they feel like having a “crackdown.”

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