Offenses people commit while driving fall into two categories: Primary and secondary. Primary offenses are significant violations like speeding that give police officers immediate cause to conduct a traffic stop and possibly site someone. Secondary offenses are issues that are less safety-critical and therefore do not justify a traffic stop. However, if police officers notice secondary offenses during a traffic stop, they can cite someone for that along with whatever citation they issue for the primary offense.
Texting while driving is one of the most visible and common forms of distracted driving on New York’s roads, but Is it a primary justification for the police to pull you over?
New York considers texting while driving a primary offense
Police officers do not need a different reason to pull you over and write you a ticket if they see you with your phone in your hand while driving. Texting while driving is a primary offense that justifies a traffic stop and immediate citation.
A first offense can mean a ticket of between $50 and $150, while subsequent offenses can mean a bigger ticket with a fine of as much as $400. Commercial drivers and young drivers could face secondary consequences that affect their licensing.
You can defend yourself against a citation for texting and driving
It is possible for police officers to misunderstand the situation. For example, perhaps they demanded to look at your phone and saw the timestamp of a text message, which led to a ticket. However, as you explained to them at that time, you didn’t type the text. The passenger in your vehicle typed the response for you.
Perhaps there is no digital evidence showing that your phone was in use at all at the time of the citation, and the police officer merely believes that they saw you on your phone. Digital records and documentation from the officer will determine what defense options you may have.
Fighting a ticket can help protect your license and your driving record — and reduce the long-term insurance consequences you face. Speaking with an experienced attorney here in New York is wise.