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New York’s handheld phone use law

In New York, driver inattention and distractions are one of the leading causes of car crashes involving property damage or physical injuries. This state began to crack down on drivers’ use of phones in particular in the effort to make roads safer. It all began in 2001 with New York’s cellular phone law.

The cellular phone law in detail

On December 1, 2001, New York passed a law making it a primary offense for drivers to use a handheld phone. A “primary offense” is an infraction for which police can pull drivers over. Drivers who break the law can be fined up to $200.

It’s not just talking on a handheld phone that’s illegal. The law forbids surfing the web and reading, writing, sharing or storing any electronic data, especially emails and text messages. Drivers also cannot view or transmit images or play games.

Exception to the handheld phone law

Hands-free phone use is allowed under the law. So is the use of phones and GPS devices that are affixed to the vehicle. Drivers can also call the police, hospital or fire department on a handheld phone in cases of emergencies. Drivers of authorized emergency vehicles can use handheld phones, too, provided that it’s official business they are on.

Finding a lawyer to represent you

In spite of these laws, though, the number of motor vehicle accidents that involve distracted driving seem to be going up. In New York, there were 87,728 such crashes in 2018, compared to 57,006 crashes in 2017. If you were injured at the hands of an inattentive driver, you may be eligible for compensation.

New York being a no-fault state, only severely injured plaintiffs could file a third-party insurance claim. To see how strong your case is, you may consult with a lawyer. The lawyer may represent you at the negotiation table, too.