If you are caught texting while driving now in New York, you could face much stiffer penalties than in the past.

Police officers are cracking down across New York State on texting motorists, and the number of tickets issued to distracted drivers has soared across the state in recent months.

Have you gotten the message yet and stopped texting while driving? 

As you probably know, the Ziff Law Firm has repeatedly encouraged state officials to toughen the law and then urged police to enforce it. You can see what we’ve said here and here and here.

Here are some of the findings reported in a Gannett News Service story this week in the Elmira Star-Gazette on the increase in the number of texting-while-driving tickets issued in New York State:

  • The number of tickets soared 43 percent through mid-September, compared with all of 2010, an increase from 3,248 tickets in 2010 to 4,634 tickets so far in 2011.
  • Outside New York City, the number of tickets issued for texting totaled 1,617 in 2010 and 2,777 tickets in 2011 as of Sept. 17, a 72 percent increase.
  • The number of tickets more than doubled in 33 counties, including in Chemung and Monroe, and more than tripled in other counties downstate.

The big increase comes after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a new law in July that allows police to pull over drivers specifically for texting. That law took effect on July 12.

The initial law approved in 2009 only made texting a secondary infraction, so police could only ticket a driver if they were pulled over for another offense, such as erratic driving.

Talking on a cell phone while driving is still a more common infraction, according to Gannett. Police across the state have issued 181,400 tickets so far this year after about 332,000 were issued in 2010!

A texting while driving violation will now cost you a fine of up to $150 and three points on your license, which is the same as a speeding ticket. (Remember what THAT last speeding ticket did to your insurance bill?)

Drivers iilegally using a cell phone to talk could be issued a ticket for a traffic infraction and a $150 fine!

See this New York State website for more about the new texting while driving law. Also see this website about the state’s law on drivers using cell phones.

Anyone seeking a license in New York State must now attend a class on the dangers of distracted driving.

In the first full month of the new law, a record 1,082 tickets were issued statewide. The previous record was in April, with 689 tickets, but a special enforcement period in Syracuse drove up the numbers, Gannett reported.

“It’s a great success story,” John Grebert, executive director of the New York Police Chiefs Association, told Gannett.

The number of tickets issued in Chemung County jumped from 15 to 34 since the new law was approved. Chemung County Sheriff Christopher Moss told Gannett that the texting lookouts are now part of distracted driving enforcement funded by the state. And the county also meets with students to talk about the dangers of texting while driving!

Too many young people are not getting the message. Look at other drivers as you drive in Elmira, Corning and the Twin Tiers — too many are still texting and putting us all in danger. 

Put down the distraction and DRIVE before you cause an accident that could change your life — and the lives of others — forever.

Please! Let’s be safe on the road. For yourself, for your passengers and others on the road — INCLUDING pedestrians and bicyclists!

Thanks for reading. Please drive safely!



James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Mailto: jreed@zifflaw.com
Office: (607) 733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Web: www.zifflaw.com
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and