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New York Traffic Violations Legal Blog

New York penalties for texting and driving

Texting and driving is an ambiguous term. People may believe that only sending text messages while driving is prohibited under New York law, when, in fact, many types of cell phone use are considered illegal when a person is behind the wheel. Talking on a cell phone, sending emails, surfing the Internet, and engaging in other phone-based activities while driving are all considered texting and driving for the purposes of imposing fines and points on drivers' licenses.

Engaging in one of these activities can be expensive. For example, a person caught texting and driving for the first time may be fined up to $200. If they amass three or more texting and driving violations in a three-month period, then their fine may rise to $450.

Is "driving the speed of traffic" a defense to speeding?

Controlled highways throughout New York have posted speed limits that reach up to 65 miles per hour. However, anyone who has spent time on the highways of the state will know that traffic is often moving well in excess of that established ceiling. Some people believe that it is far safer to speed to keep up with other vehicles when in traffic than it is to drive the speed limit or lower and be the slowest vehicle on the road.

Whatever truth there may or may not be to this belief, it will likely not do a driver any good as a defense if they offer it as an explanation to why they were caught and ticketed for speeding. Guidance offered by the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee clearly states that a speed limit is just that - the top end of the safe speeds a driver should reach on a certain road. Just because others are electing to violate the speed limit a driver will not be justified in doing so.

Drivers must often yield to pedestrians in New York

Individuals who drive in New York know well how difficult it can be to negotiate the busy streets and intersections of the city. Not only do many cars, trucks, and other automobiles clog the roadways with traffic, but drivers must also move around bicyclists and pedestrians. In the chaos of driving, it can be confusing for drivers to remember just when they have the right of way when it comes to encountering pedestrians.

Pursuant to Title VII of the Laws of New York, drivers must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Yielding means that a driver must either slow down or stop depending upon which action is appropriate given the circumstances. However, in signal-controlled intersections, pedestrians must follow their signals and yield to vehicles when they have the right of way.

Helping you to fight a speeding ticket

Driving is a privilege that many New Yorkers enjoy, but it is also one that many need to keep their lives moving forward. The ability to use one's own car to get to their job and transport family members to school and other locations is important to those who enjoy their independence, but it can also be vital for many who must be able commute to work to provide for themselves and their family. As readers of this blog know, tickets and other sanctions can threaten drivers' rights when it comes to maintaining their licenses.

One of the most common violations that drivers may be charged with is speeding. Speeding involves operating one's vehicle over the limit of the area where they are. Depending upon how fast a driver is operating their vehicle and how far over the speed limit they are alleged to have been driving, a driver can face fines, the suspension or loss of their license, and, potentially, other consequences if they are convicted.

What can happen if you drive without a license?

Individuals who are accused of traffic violations that involve driving without a license are encouraged to discuss their case with traffic defense attorneys. This is because different factual scenarios will have very different strategies that may help New York residents avoid the costly penalties that can accompany these types of charges.

For example, if a driver is stopped and does not have their license on them because they simply forgot it, they may have an opportunity to later prove they hold a valid driver's license and avoid a penalty for operating without a license. However, individuals who drive without valid drivers' licenses issued to them can face more serious consequences.

Drivers may have more points taken away the faster they speed

When playing a video game, a person may wish to drive as fast as possible to get the most points they can. However, drivers in New York are probably aware that fast driving and points are not good for their driving records. In fact, when a driver accumulates too many points on their license, they may lose their driving privileges.

Under the New York State Driver Point System, points are assigned to drivers' licenses for illegal actions. Speeding is one action that is penalized with points and the amount over the speed limit that a driver is alleged to have driven will dictate how many points are assigned. For example, while allegedly driving one to ten miles per hour over the speed limit will result in three points assigned to a driver's license, allegedly driving 21 to 30 miles per hour over the limit will result in six points being assigned.

Is reckless driving treated the same as a speeding ticket?

Different offenses can result in different types of criminal charges. This can be particularly confusing for a New York resident who has not had the need to understand the rules of driving beyond testing to get their driver's license. For example, different speeding offenses may be charged differently, depending upon the alleged actions of the driver.

If a driver is pulled over for allegedly breaking the law by speeding eight miles over the speed limit, they likely would not be arrested on a misdemeanor or felony offense. Instead, they would be issued a speeding ticket for a traffic infraction and would later have the opportunity to either pay their fine or appear and contest their alleged infraction.

Many consider texting and driving a big problem

Most New Yorkers are likely aware that they can be ticketed if they are caught using a hand-held device while operating their car. Texting and driving is considered a dangerous practice by lawmakers because they believe that drivers who text do not give their full attention to the roads. In fact, texting and driving crackdowns are not uncommon, with one New York city recently ticketing more than two dozen people for texting and driving infractions.

However, a recent poll demonstrates that lawmakers are not the only ones who think that texting and driving is a bad idea. According to the poll, Americans in some of the biggest metropolitan areas in the country claimed that they believe texting and driving is a big problem in their cities. In New York, 71 percent of respondents believed that texting and driving is a problem, while only 17 percent said it isn't a problem. The remainder of respondents wasn't sure.

Why was I accused of a stop sign violation?

Most children learn what an octagon is because it is so often associated with a common traffic symbol: a stop sign. In New York, drivers can find stop signs at intersections, in parking areas, and throughout neighborhoods. A stop sign may be placed in front of a crosswalk, may be part of a four-way junction, or may be the only symbol that a driver must heed before continuing on their journey.

Under New York law, a driver must stop at a stop sign unless they are directed to travel through it by a police officer. If there is a stop line on the road, then the driver must stop before crossing it. If there is a crosswalk in front of the sign, then the driver may not stop in it. If a stop sign has neither a stop line nor a crosswalk, then the driver must stop where they have a view of the intersection without actually traveling into the intersection.

Multiple offenders face obstacles to reclaiming their licenses

One of the consequences that a New Yorker may face if they are convicted of drunk driving is the loss of their license. A license may be suspended, which is a temporary loss of one's driving privileges, or it may be revoked, which effectively terminates a person's driving privileges. When a person is convicted of an alcohol-based driving crime, it is not unusual for them to lose their driving privileges for at least some length of time. If a person is charged with drunk driving more than once, the length of time that they may lose their license may increase.

For example, a person who has at least five alcohol related driving incidents or convictions in their driving history may have their driving privileges permanently revoked. They may be given the designation of "persistently dangerous driver" and may not, unless exceptional circumstances are present, ever be allowed to drive legally in New York again.

Call 212-257-8321 to receive a free, no-obligation ticket evaluation from The Law Office of Craig Bondy or reach us by email.

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