Should I Plead Guilty to a Cell Phone Ticket in New York?

Summary

Should I Plead Guilty to a Cell Phone Ticket?
You should NEVER plead guilty to any traffic violation without first seeking the advice of a traffic lawyer. This is especially true for a Cell Phone ticket. Cell phone convictions are particularly damaging to your driving record and have very serious ramifications.
Pleading guilty to any moving violation traffic ticket adds points and moving violation convictions to your driving record which can result in increased insurance premiums, DMV fees and potential driver's license suspensions.

Cell Phone & Driving

Never Plead Guilty to a Cell Device Violation

The Law governing Cell Phone Tickets

New York's Vehicle and Traffic Law ("VTL") contains two sections that prohibit the use of cell phones while driving.   VTL 1225-c governs the use of Cell Phones and VTL 1225-d governs the use of Portable Electronic Devices. In this article we will discuss the law governing the use of Cell Phones.  To read about the law governing the use of Electronic Devices, please refer to my Blog, "Should I Plead Guilty to an Electronic Device Ticket?"

Cell Phone Ticket Law - The Statute:  New York VTL 1225-C

NY VTL 1225-c(2)(a) states that "no person shall operate a motor vehicle upon a public highway while using a mobile telephone to engage in a call while such vehicle is in motion."  The terms in the statute are defined as follows:

  • "Mobile telephone" shall mean the device used by subscribers and other users of wireless telephone service to access such service.
  • "Wireless telephone service" shall mean two-way real time voice telecommunications service that is interconnected to a public switched telephone network and is provided by a commercial mobile radio service, as such term is defined by 47 C.F.R. S 20.3.
  • "Using" shall mean (i) holding a mobile telephone to, or in the immediate proximity of, the user's ear; and (ii) with respect to a person operating a commercial motor vehicle, holding a mobile telephone to, or in the immediate proximity of, the user's ear, or dialing or answering a mobile telephone by pressing more than a single button, or reaching for a mobile telephone in a manner that requires such person to maneuver so that he or she is no longer in a seated driving position, restrained by a seat belt that is installed in accordance with section 393.93 of title 49 of the code of federal regulations and adjusted in accordance with the vehicle manufacturer's instructions.
  • "Hand-held mobile telephone" shall mean a mobile telephone with which a user engages in a call using at least one hand.
  • "Hands-free mobile telephone" shall mean a mobile telephone that has an internal feature or function, or that is equipped with an attachment or addition, whether or not permanently part of such mobile telephone, by which a user engages in a call without the use of either hand, whether or not the use of either hand is necessary to activate, deactivate or initiate a function of such telephone. Provided, however, that for purposes of this section, a mobile telephone used by a person operating a commercial motor vehicle shall not be deemed a "hands-free mobile telephone" when such person dials or answers such mobile telephone by pressing more than a single button.
  • "Engage in a call" shall mean talking into or listening on a hand-held mobile telephone, but shall not include holding a mobile telephone to activate, deactivate or initiate a function of such telephone.
  • "Immediate proximity" shall mean that distance as permits the operator of a mobile telephone to hear telecommunications transmitted over such mobile telephone, but shall not require physical contact with such operator's ear.

Simply stated, in New York, you may not operate a motor vehicle while talking on a cell phone. 

 How Many POINTS is a Cell Phone Ticket in New York?

5 points are added to your license for a Cell Phone violation conviction or guilty plea.

Suspensions:  Note that If you receive 11 points in an 18-month period, your driver license will be suspended.  To learn more, see About the NY State Driver Point System.

What is the FINE for a Cell Phone Ticket in New York?  

Violation Minimum/Maximum
1st offense $50/$200
2nd offense within 18 months $50/$250
3rd offense within 18 months $50/$450

In addition, a surcharge of $88 or $93 is added to the fine depending upon the court.

––––————♦♦♦————––––

What are the PENALTIES for PROBATIONARY & JUNIOR LICENSE drivers who receive a Cell Phone Ticket?

Violation Penalty
1st conviction Suspension of the license or permit for 120 days
2nd conviction within 6 months of restoration of permit, probationary or junior license Revocation of at least one year

CDL Drivers & Cell Phone Tickets?

VTL 1225-c contains additional provisions pertaining specifically to the operators of commercial motor vehicles who use a mobile phone.

  • 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, an 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

In addition to fines assessed for the conviction of a cell phone violation, Commercial Drivers are also subject to FMCSA regulations and its additional penalties including:

  • A civil penalty not to exceed $5,833
  • Two cell phone convictions within 3 years can result in a disqualification from driving a commercial vehicle for 60 days
  • Two cell phone convictions within 3 years can result in a disqualification from driving a commercial vehicle for 120 days

––––————♦♦♦————––––

 What are the DEFENSES to a Cell Phone Ticket?

There are very limited circumstances where cell phone use while driving is permissible:

  • The use of a hands-free mobile telephone
  • Engaging in a call does not include holding a mobile telephone to activate, deactivate or initiate a function of such telephone
  • Commercial drivers are not operating a commercial motor vehicle while talking on the phone or while operating a portable electronic device when such vehicle is stopped at the side of, or off, a public highway in a location where such vehicle is not otherwise prohibited from stopping by law
  • The use of a mobile telephone for the sole purpose of communicating with any of the following regarding an emergency situation:
    • an emergency response operator
    • a hospital, physician's office, or health clinic
    • an ambulance company
    • a fire department
    • a police department
  • The use of a mobile telephone by the following persons while in the performance of their official duties:
    • a police officer or peace officer
    • a member of a fire department, district, or company
    • the operator of an authorized emergency vehicle

You Need an Experienced Cell Phone Ticket Attorney

The laws governing the use of Cell Phones while driving are complex and the penalties are significant.  It can add 5 points to your driving record, the fines are costly and the effects on your insurance premium can be severe.  As such, it is important that you consult with an experienced cell phone defense attorney who knows the governing statutes and the best way to defend your charges in order to get them reduced or dismissed.

Veltry Law, PC has been successfully defending Cell Phone tickets for over 30 years.  We know what needs to be done in order to protect your license as well as your future.  With our Money-Back Guarantee you can rest assured that we are confident in our ability to get your charges reduced or dismissed.   We will go to court on your behalf and fight to reduce the points, minimize the fines and avoid an increase in your insurance rate.

Please feel free to visit our website or call Veltry Law, PC 24/7 for a free consultation.

Leave a Comment