As of 2017, there were 12,070,424 licensed drivers in New York State. This does not include the thousands of non-residential drivers and tourists who drive on our roads every day.
The average vehicle weighs in at over 4,000 pounds. That makes even a small sedan a lethal weapon when left in the hands of an inattentive driver.
New York State takes road safety seriously. As a result, the consequences can be severe. The Law Offices of Michael H. Ricca P.C. is here to help you understand the dangers associated with distracted driving, as well as the consequences should you be caught driving in this manner.
In 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that there were 34,247 fatal crashes in the United States. As a result, 37,133 lives were lost.
In 2017, 2,935 fatal crashes were attributed to distracted driving and 3,166 deaths. This equates to roughly 9% of all fatal crashes and vehicle-related deaths. Sadly, 599 non-occupants, which includes pedestrians and bicyclists, were also killed as the result of a distracted driver.
Anyone can be distracted while driving. However, drivers who are 15 to 19 years of age are the most likely to have a fatal crash due to distracted driving.
Cell phones are one of the leading causes of distracted driving. In fact, 14%, or 401, of all fatal crashes due to distracted driving in 2017 occurred while the driver was using a cell phone. This led to 434 (14%) of all deaths attributed to distracting driving.
DISTRACTED DRIVING CONSEQUENCES IN NEW YORK STATE
The facts are indisputable. Distracted driving is dangerous and can lead to serious or fatal accidents. Beyond that, however, distracted driving is illegal in New York State. As such, there are a number of consequences you may face should you be caught operating a motor vehicle while distracted.
Cell phone use while driving is explicitly forbidden through New York State Vehicle and Traffic Laws (VTL) 1225(c) and 1225(d).
- VTL 1225(c): This law specifically targets cell phone use. To be ticketed for this offense, the driver must be engaged in using the cell phone at the time of the citation.
- VTL 1225(d): Under this law, the use of any hand held device while operating a vehicle. This includes your GPS, iPod, camera, or other electronic devices.
Being convicted of these offenses can amount to serious legal issues for yourself, even if your cell phone use did not result in an accident. If you are convicted of a distracted driving offense, you may have to face one, or all, of the following legal consequences:
- Fines: Your first conviction may include a fine that ranges from $50 to $150. If you receive a second conviction within an 18-month period, an additional fine ranging from $50 to $200 may be assessed. A third conviction during this time will earn a fine of $50 to $400.
- Surcharges: Surcharges are fees that are owed in addition to the above fines. Based on where the violation occurred, your surcharge will be $88 or $93.
Both VTL 1225(c) and 1225(d) are considered traffic infractions. However, not only are they costly, but continued failure to obey these laws can elevate the charges the next time you are pulled over.
As if the legal consequences are not deterrent enough, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has additional penalties you may face.
- Points: New York State has a points system that it uses to flag dangerous drivers. VTL 1225(c) or 1225(d) will result in 5 points being added to your driving record per each conviction.
- Driver Responsibility Assessment Fee (DRA): If you accumulate 6 or more points within 18 months, the DMV will require you to pay a DRA. For 6 points, the DRA starts at $300, which is to be paid over the course of 3 years ($100 per year for 3 years). For each point over the initial 6 points, however, an additional $75 will be assessed. Failure to pay this fee, as dictated by the DMV, will result in the suspension of your license.
- License Suspension/Revocation: For those drivers who continue to disregard the law or refuse to pay their DRA, the DMV may suspend or revoke their driver’s license. If this occurs, the DMV will provide information that tells you whether you have a definite or indefinite suspension, as well as what you need to do to get your license back. Definite suspensions or revocations come with a specific start and end date. Indefinite suspensions or revocations will have some criteria you must meet before you can request your driver’s license back. This may be paying your owed DRA, being current on child support payments, or some other criteria. Regardless of the type of suspension or revocation, you will have to pay a termination fee before your driver’s license is valid again. At present, this fee is $50 to be paid in addition to all the other fines you have to bring your driver’s license into good standing.
Plenty of other, more personal consequences may stem from a distracted driver conviction. However, one of the most commonly forgotten consequences of traffic citations is the effect it has on your automobile insurance premiums. In fact, a single conviction for using your cell phone while driving may result in a 20% premium increase in New York State. This is a long term financial hardship that goes beyond a single fine or fee.
THE LAW OFFICES OF MICHAEL H. RICCA P.C.
The Law Offices of Michael H. Ricca P.C. is here to help you fight your distracted driver charge. Distracted driving is dangerous and we understand how these charges can impact the lives of our clients. Do not plead guilty or pay a traffic fine without calling us first!
As dedicated and experienced legal counsel, we are able to evaluate the facts of the case and fight for a favorable outcome. After all, we make fighting traffic citations as easy as 1-2-3! If you would like to find out more about how we can help you fight your distracted driver charge, contact The Law Offices of Michael H. Ricca P.C. today for your free consultation at (516) 500-1647!