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Cell phone use & texting

Under New York State law you cannot use a hand-held mobile telephone or send a text or an email while you drive. If you use a hand-held mobile telephone while you drive (except to call 911 or to contact medical, fire or police personnel about an emergency) or use a device to text or send email, you can receive a traffic ticket and be subject to a fine and a surcharge.

Conviction of a cell phone use or texting violation will also result in points being added to your DMV driving record.  If you receive 11 points in an 18 month period, your driver license may be suspended.  To learn more, see About the NYS Driver Point System


Fines for violations committed between July 26, 2013 and October 31, 2014 1

ViolationMininumMaximum
First offense$50$150
Second offense within 18 months$50$200
Third or subsequent offense within 18 months$50$400

The surcharge for all violations can be up to $93.

Fines for violations committed on or after November 1, 2014

ViolationMininumMaximum
First offense$50$200
Second offense within 18 months$50$250
Third or subsequent offense within 18 months$50$450

The surcharge for all violations can be up to $93.

 

Driver violation points

  • for offenses committed between October 5, 2011 and May 31, 2013, this violation carries three driver violation points

  • for offenses committed on or after June 1, 2013, this violation carries five driver violation points

 

Penalties for probationary and junior drivers with a Class DJ or MJ driver license or learner permit

Effective November 1, 2014, the first conviction of a cell phone use or texting violation will result in a suspension of the driver license or permit for 120 days.

A second conviction within six months of the restoration of the license or permit (after the 120 day suspension is terminated) will result in

  • a revocation of at least one year of a probationary license, or

  • a revocation of at least one year for a Class DJ or MJ driver license or learner permit


Restrictions for Motor Carriers and Commercial Vehicle Drivers

Effective October 28, 2013

  • a motor carrier must not allow or require their drivers to use cell phones or texting devices while driving

  • a mobile telephone used by a person who operates a commercial motor vehicle shall not be deemed a "hands-free mobile telephone" when the driver presses more than a single button to dial or answer the phone

  • a commercial vehicle driver is not allowed to make a phone call or use a texting device while the vehicle is temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays

  • a commercial vehicle driver who holds a mobile telephone to, or in the immediate proximity of, his or her ear while the vehicle is temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays is also presumed to be engaged in a call

  • a commercial vehicle driver who holds a portable electronic device in a conspicuous manner while the vehicle is temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays is presumed to be using the device


For more information, see the Distracted Driving page at the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee website.

 

  • 1.

    Before July 26, 2013, the fines were:

    • cell phone violation - up to $100
    • texting violation - up to $100

    The surcharge for violations that occurred before July 26th was up to $85.