New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently signed a new law that will bolster the enforcement against drivers who use handhelddrielectronic devices while driving. Citing studies that illustrate that texting while driving, as one example, is tantamount to driving while impaired, helped expedite this process. In the Governor’s own words, “It’s plain and simple: distracted driving leads to tragedies that have affected families across New York.
This new law will help ensure that drivers keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.” Of course, using an electronic device while driving has been a punishable offense in NY for quite some time, but with Cuomo’s updated legislation, both the penalties themselves, as well as the freedom of police to enforce this law, will increase in an attempt to eradicate these highly unsafe actions.
Aside from actually strengthening the laws already in place, this new legislation has also redefined that which is illegal. Anything having to do with texting, such as composing, sending, and reading electronic data, as well as the viewing or taking of images on one’s mobile device, all fall within the purview of this new legislation. Formerly, the penalty was considered a secondary traffic offense, which meant that law enforcement could not stop drivers unless they violated another traffic law in addition to the use of electronic devices. But that has changed. The punitive consequences remain at the former rate, $150, but the level of violation has been raised to a primary traffic offense, giving police the ability to pull over drivers simply for using an electronic device in the manner described above without having to catch them in the act of another traffic transgression, and increasing the points placed on one’s license from two to three.
There are exceptions to this rule. If one were to need the assistance of either police, the fire department or emergency medical personnel, that person is exempt from this law. Similarly, law enforcement, firefighters or emergency vehicle drivers will also be permitted to use electronic devices in times of need. But everyone else will be held accountable, giving law enforcement, as New York State Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg explains, “the tools they need to keep our roads safe and prevent future accidents.” This is an important first step toward making driving, for both motorists as well as pedestrians, a far safer endeavor.
If you have been injured in a car accident by someone using an electronic device, it is imperative that you contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The law office of Antin, Ehrlich and Epstein is here to help you navigate through this process.