man holding cellphone while driving
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By Michael Arbeit
Founding Attorney

“Don’t text and drive,” is a slogan you hear often enough all across the United States but, in New York, you may want to hear it a bit more closely. Distracted driving is a serious problem. The ability to respond to ever-changing circumstances is critical when you are traveling fast in a machine weighing thousands of pounds. 

Many states have enacted texting while driving laws, including New York. However, New York has harsh consequences for those caught violating the law.  In this article, we will discuss what is illegal, the potential fines permitted, the points assessed against a license, and how a lawyer may be able to help if you receive a texting while driving ticket.  

What is texting while driving?

Well, unlike the name suggests, texting while driving covers significantly more than simply typing out a message to your friend. In order to be guilty of texting while driving you must be holding a cell phone while doing some prohibited activity. These activities include talking on the phone, in someway accessing electronic data, taking or working with images, and playing games. 

What are the possible fines?

Most people who receive a ticket are going to wonder how much it will cost them. In all cases, the minimum ticket amount is $50. The maximum amount depends entirely on how many previous convictions for texting while driving you have. If this is your first time, you will face a maximum fine of $200. If you get another ticket, that max goes up to $250, and any additional ticket within an eighteen-month period will be subject to a max fine of $450. That is on top of a surcharge that could be as much as $95.

While these fines are not insignificant, the far more costly concern is how any ticket might impact your insurance premiums. Insurance companies often monitor the driving records of those people who have policies with them. The more traffic infractions you have, the higher risk you appear to be. The higher risk a person appears to be, the more the insurance company will charge that person. How much your premiums increase after a texting while driving ticket is up to your insurance company and that price increase may take some time to go back down. 

What are the consequences for my driving record?

New York, like many states, has a point system when it comes to driving records. In New York, a person who receives eleven points in an 18-month period will have their license suspended. This means that you will be unable to legally drive until your suspension has ended. 

Texting while driving carries five points per offense. Points do not go on a record until a conviction occurs, but they are counted from the date of the offense not the date of the completion of the case. While you may be thinking that five points do not seem like a lot, to put it in context, the only offense that carries more points is speeding 21 miles per hour over the posted limit. Additionally, three texting while driving convictions in 18 months gets a person a suspension. 

Can a lawyer help with a texting while driving case?

Absolutely, lawyers can help if you have been charged with texting while driving. Many times in traffic law cases, the prosecutor will recommend a plea bargain. This may result in a person paying more money upfront but can, often, keep points off your license and help with the insurance company raising rates. Lawyers who frequently practice in traffic court, like Michael Arbeit, have established relationships with prosecutors increasing the chances of your receiving a favorable recommendation. Additionally, with experience handling traffic cases like texting while driving matters, attorneys with it can tell the difference between a deal that benefits the client and one that only helps the government. 

Most importantly, lawyers know how to try cases. A skilled advocate by your side can help you by fighting for your rights. If you have received a texting while driving ticket, contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.

About the Author
Michael A. Arbeit, P.C. is devoted to all Criminal Defense and  Traffic related matters.  Michael practices primarily in the Criminal and County (Supreme) Courts in Nassau County, Suffolk County, Queens County, Kings County, New York County and the Bronx County.  Michael is also licensed to practice law in the Federal Courts of the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) and the Southern District of New York (SDNY).