New York is one of many states in the country to outlaw texting while driving
because the behavior has been linked to an increased risk of being involved
in a car accident. The state recently increased the penalty for being
caught texting behind the wheel from a three point penalty on your license
to a five point penalty. However, this only applies to drivers who are
convicted, which recent statistics show are a relatively low proportion
of those who are cited.
Statewide, only 44 percent of citations issued for texting-while-driving
have resulted in a conviction. Prosecutors say that this low rate is a
result of the difficulty of proving that someone was actually texting
if phone records do not show a text sent at the time of the traffic stop.
For New York drivers who are accused of texting behind the wheel or who
are cited for other distracted driving offenses, it is important that
police establish convincing evidence to support the allegations. Otherwise
police could hand out tickets associated with harsh penalties and major
fines for perfectly legal activities such as changing a radio station
or adjusting the air conditioning that could be mistaken for texting by
a passing state trooper.
The points system associated with driving infractions means that drivers
are penalized with a license suspension after a certain number of points
within a given time period. Currently, drivers in New York face a 31 day
license suspension if they get 11 points within an 18 month period.
Source: WGRZ, " Despite Increased Fines, Texting Convictions Lag in NY,"
Joseph Spector, June 10, 2013.