Patrick M. Noe, Jr., Attorney at Law
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Handheld device laws in New York

Cellphones, tablets and other mobile devices have become such a large part of our lives now that most people cannot imagine being without them. For many people in New York and elsewhere, this means using their phones while they are driving. It is important for you to understand the consequences you can face for using a mobile device behind the wheel.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that 3,450 people across the United States died in 2016 in distracted driving accidents. As you are probably aware, cellphones pose one of the greatest distracted driving risks, especially for teenagers and young adults. Many young people are unaware of the impact that texting or checking social media can have on driving. The following points illustrate New York’s handheld device laws:

  • Drivers may not use a handheld device while driving, including talking on the phone, but they are allowed to use a hands-free cellphone.
  • Sending and reading text messages, checking email, playing games, taking pictures and other activities are also banned while driving.
  • Commercial drivers must not use a handheld device even when their vehicles are temporarily stopped, such as at a red light or in heavy traffic.
  • Commercial drivers may use a hands-free device as long as no more than one button is pushed to use the device.
  • Violators of cellphone driving laws may face a traffic ticket, fines, points on their driving record and possible suspension of their driver’s license.
  • Drivers with learner’s permits will lose their license for 120 days their first time with a cellphone driving violation, and will lose their license for at least one year on the second offense.

You may note that it is permissible to use your phone while driving to call 911 in an emergency. Additionally, an officer may pull you over and issue a citation simply for observing you using a handheld device behind the wheel.

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