You’re driving down the road—a road you’ve traveled a million times—and you get the urge to grab your phone to text your friend, “Hey, I’m on my way.” It’ll only take a few seconds, you tell yourself.

But even a few seconds of distracted driving is just that—distracted driving.

According to the FCC, an estimated 400,000 people were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2018 and nine percent of fatal crashes in the U.S. over the last seven years involved a distracted driver.[^1]

Texting and driving is illegal in 48 states and D.C., and if you’re caught texting while operating a motor vehicle you can face hefty fines.

New York State takes texting and driving very seriously, and offenders can face hundreds of dollars in fines plus violation points added to their license. Read on to learn more about the texting and driving fine in New York.

New York Texting and Driving Penalties

Under New York law, distracted driving includes texting, as well as emailing, taking photos, and playing games on your phone. It’s also illegal to make a phone call while physically holding your phone, though you can talk hands-free via Bluetooth headset or on speakerphone. This distracted driving law isn’t quite as widespread, but handheld device bans exist in nearly two dozen states and counting.[^2]

If you are caught texting and driving, you’ll receive a ticket and a fine. These fines increase depending on how many offenses you have on your record:

  • First offense – Minimum fine of $50, maximum fine of $200

  • Second offense (occurring within 18 months) – Minimum fine of $50, maximum fine of $250

  • Third or subsequent offenses (also within 18 months) – Minimum fine of $50, maximum fine of $450

In addition to facing a monetary fine, those who are caught text messaging while driving could also receive up to five driver violation points. If you receive six or more points within 18 months, you’ll have to pay a Driver Responsibility Assessment fee. If you reach 11 points in the same time period, your driver’s license could be suspended.

Points remain on your driver’s license for 18 months but could remain on your driving record as long as the conviction remains on your record.[^3] You’re more likely to face sky-high New York car insurance rates because these points will be considered when calculating your premium.

Even Higher Penalties

Certain drivers will receive even harsher penalties if caught texting while driving. This includes drivers with:

  • A learner’s permit

  • A probationary license

  • A junior license

In fact, these drivers will immediately have their license suspended. This suspension will last 120 days, and if the driver is caught texting and driving again after this suspension period, they’ll have their license revoked for at least 12 months.

How to Combat Distracted Driving

According to a 2018 survey from the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, the federal government estimates that 9.7% percent of drivers were using a cellphone during any moment of the day.[^4]

As we’ve noted, most states have a texting ban in place, and more states are starting to add a handheld cellphone ban to their books, too. But the temptation to use your cellphone while driving is still high for many drivers, even with the knowledge that they may face severe penalties like pricey fines and violation points added to their license.

Even if humans cannot resist the urge to text, technology may be able to help curb the number of distracted driver car crashes.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety claims that some “driver assistance technologies are reducing crashes.”[^5] These technologies include:

  • Front and rear crash prevention

  • Adaptive cruise control

  • Blindspot detection

In addition to smarter, more automated cars, cell phone programs could also help prevent drivers from getting distracted by their own devices.

Cell phone blocking apps and devices prevent drivers from texting, making calls, or accessing the internet while behind the wheel.[^6] You can download these apps for free onto your phone, and once activated the app will create a virtual barrier around the driver. You can still call a select list of numbers while on the app, plus 911.

Depending on what phone and carrier you have, some of these apps will send automated messages to let the person trying to reach you know that you are driving.[^7] This can eliminate any temptation or obligation to respond yourself.

Practice Safe Driving with the Proper Auto Insurance

Texting and driving in New York—and 47 other states—is illegal, and those who are caught will face both fines and potential points added to their driving record. A bad record could also affect future New York car registration and insurance prices.

Even if the fines for texting while driving seem negligible, points stay on a driver’s record in New York for 18 months. These points can increase your monthly car insurance premium dramatically.

Safe drivers know they can wait to send a text message, and they also know that comprehensive auto insurance is one of the most important facets of operating a vehicle. If you’re in the market for a new policy, head to Online Auto Insurance (OAI) to get a fast and free quote.

OAI lets you compare rates from top insurance companies and helps you meet the New York state car insurance requirements.

Knowledge is power. OAI wants to empower you with that knowledge to help you find the cheapest car insurance in New York.

Ready to hit the road responsibly? Check out OAI today.

Sources:

Federal Communications Commission. The Dangers of Distracted Driving. https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/dangers-texting-while-driving

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Distracted Driving. https://www.iihs.org/topics/distracted-driving

Department of Motor Vehicles, New York State. *About the New York State Driver Point System. *\ https://dmv.ny.gov/tickets/about-nys-driver-point-system

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Advanced driver assistance. https://www.iihs.org/topics/advanced-driver-assistance

National Safety Council. *Technology Can Reduce Cell Phone Distracted Driving. *https://www.nsc.org/road/safety-topics/distracted-driving/technology-solutions

Consumer Reports. Technology That Can Reduce Driving Distractions and Their Dangers. \ https://www.consumerreports.org/car-safety/technology-that-can-reduce-driving-distractions-dangers-car-safety-features/

Notes

[^1]: Federal Communications Commission. The Dangers of Distracted Driving. https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/dangers-texting-while-driving

[^2]: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Distracted driving. https://www.iihs.org/topics/distracted-driving

[^3]: Department of Motor Vehicles, New York State. About the New York State Driver Point System. \ https://dmv.ny.gov/tickets/about-nys-driver-point-system

[^4]: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Distracted driving. https://www.iihs.org/topics/distracted-driving

[^5]: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Advanced driver assistance. https://www.iihs.org/topics/advanced-driver-assistance

[^6]: National Safety Council. Technology Can Reduce Cell Phone Distracted Driving. https://www.nsc.org/road/safety-topics/distracted-driving/technology-solutions

[^7]: Consumer Reports. Technology That Can Reduce Driving Distractions and Their Dangers. \ https://www.consumerreports.org/car-safety/technology-that-can-reduce-driving-distractions-dangers-car-safety-features/