Texting While Driving Continues to Rise in New York
Drivers in New York and in the rest of the United States still continue to text while driving, despite the fact that texting behind the wheel has been outlawed in 35 states and numerous public awareness campaigns have been initiated in an effort to try to get people to kick the habit.
According to a recent study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 50 percent of drivers in their early twenties have reported that they text and email while driving. Many of these drivers were from places that have already enacted bans on texting while driving.
The fact that people aren’t listening to state laws has Congress concerned. A New York Congressperson has sponsored a bill to enact a nationwide ban on cell phone use while driving. In order to enforce such a ban, Congress would most likely pull large amounts of highway funding away from the states that do not enact the ban. (The same method was used to get states to pass the minimum drinking age of 21 that now exists in every U.S. state.)
The State of New York has enacted one of these bans, and the number of tickets that police officers have issued is steadily increasing. In 2010, police officers in New York issued 3,248 tickets for texting while driving, and that was before texting was a primary offense. Now that troopers can pull people over for texting behind the wheel without pointing to a different traffic violation first, the number of tickets has increased. In fact, the New York Department of Motor Vehicles recently released stats that show the number of texting tickets issued has increased almost fourfold since it became a primary offense in June 2011.
Just like speeding tickets, texting tickets can be costly. They include a $150 fine and accumulate 3 points on a New York driving record for the first offense.
Attempts to issue cell phone tickets and prove their cases in court can be challenging for New York police officers, however. In these types of cases, the government has the burden of proof; without strong evidence that a person has texted while driving (for example, a picture of someone doing it), police officers and prosecutors may have a hard time proving a case where someone denies texting while driving.
These cases can become the police officer’s word against the driver’s. Obtaining things like cell phone records to show cell phone use can be difficult to do in every single traffic ticket case. And like all humans, police officers can sometimes make mistakes.
If you’ve been cited with a cell phone ticket for handheld electronic device use or texting while driving, contact an experienced New York traffic ticket defense lawyer to learn about your rights.