Stop wasting your time and money playing Powerball and Mega Millions. Just give me a digital camera so I can take pictures of drivers breaking the new Handheld Electronic Devices law. Then, I’ll upload the photographic evidence of their unlawful activity to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. They can send me a check for $1,000.00 for each law-breaker. Let’s see, ten (10) each day, at $1,000.00 each, that’s $10,000.00 each day, times 20 working days each month…
…Like I said, who needs Powerball of Mega? This is a sure thing.
Wait A Minute. Another New Law?
On July 12, 2011, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed a new law about a drivers use of handheld electronic devices while operating a moving motor vehicle in New York State. Specifically, what once was a secondary traffic offense is now a primary offense.
What’s The Difference Between Primary And Secondary Offenses?
Under the old law, it was illegal for a driver to use a cell phone, IPad, or other handheld electronic device for texting or talking while operating a motor vehicle, i.e., while the vehicle was in motion.
Though illegal, the driver had to be stopped for another primary traffic violation to be ticketed for using the handheld device. So, if you’re like the many drivers I see on Brooklyn’s Third Avenue, heading to the Verrazano Bridge during the afternoon rush who are engaged in texting, talking, checking email, and in one case playing Angry Bird, you could get away with murder. Probably the murder of some poor pedestrian, or another driver, who like me would blow the heck of their horn to get “Birdmans” attention before he ran into me.
The police were required to pull you over for failing to signal a lane change, speeding, or some other primary violation to smack you with a ticket for use of the handheld electronic device. So, in addition to the points and fine for the primary offense, law enforcement would also give you a ticket garnering you two (2) points and a fine of $150.
How The Law Changed
As of July 12, 2011, law enforcement no longer needs any other reason to pull you over for violating what is now a primary offense. This means getting a ticket for three (3) points, and a fine of $150.00.
What Constitutes Illegal Activity?
Illegal activity includes holding an electronic device and:
- Composing, sending, reading, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving, or retrieving electronic data such as e-mail, text messages, or webpages;
- Viewing, taking, or transmitting images, and;
- Playing games.
How You Can Avoid A Ticket
As long as the device is attached to a surface inside your car, or is a GPS device attached to the inside of your car, you’re okay. You can also use a bluetooth earpiece if you absolutely must talk all the way home.
If you’re trying to communicate with law enforcement, the fire department, or medical personnel during an emergency, you won’t face a fine.
Who’s Exempt From The Law?
Police officers, fire fighters or emergency vehicle drivers while they are performing their duties.
How The New Law Really Affects You
- You’ll receive three points on your license, meaning your automobile insurance will increase at renewal. If your insurance company decides to renew your policy. Your company may forgive an accident, but not one caused by your unlawful operation of a moving vehicle.
- Based on the number of points already on your license, you could be required to pay annual assessments, every year for three (3) years.
- Should you exceed the number of points New York State needs to suspend your driver’s license, you could find yourself taking the train and/or bus. Then you can talk and text all you want.
According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 5,500 people were killed and 450,000 people were injured in distracted driving crashes in the year 2009.1 Also, you’re 23 times more likely to crash if you text while driving.1
So, stop the distracted driving. Chances are, you’ll live longer, pay less for your insurance, and only take the train and bus when you want to.
As for me, I guess it’s time to be “In it to win it.”
1. http://distraction.gov , “Driving Safety.”