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Texting while driving tickets increase but convictions lag

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.