Understanding the Law: Portable Electronic Devices Use While Driving
This section outlines the rules on using portable electronic devices while driving to promote road safety. It dives into NYS VTL 1225(D) specifics, touching on prohibitions and penalties, especially for commercial drivers.
What Are Portable Electronic Devices?
Section § 1225-d labels gadgets like hand-held mobile phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), handheld devices with mobile data access, laptop computers, pagers, and more as portable electronic devices. It primarily targets devices used for text communication.
The law restricts drivers from using any portable electronic device while the vehicle is in motion. This rule also binds commercial motor vehicle drivers, even when temporarily stationary on a public highway due to traffic or other brief delays. However, it allows device use when the driver parks the vehicle off or at the side of a public highway, given stopping is legal.
Exceptions to the Rule
The law permits using portable electronic devices in vehicles solely for communicating with emergency services or personnel during emergency situations. It also exempts police officers, peace officers, and fire department members while performing official duties.
Presumptions and Evidence
If a person holds a portable electronic device conspicuously while driving, the law assumes device use. Yet, a person can challenge this assumption by showing evidence that they weren’t using the device as defined under § 1225-d. This section highlights the importance of knowing the law’s specifics and possibly seeking legal advice when facing a violation charge.
Fines for Violations
The law sets strict fines for violating § 1225-d. A first violation results in a fine of $50 to $200. A second violation within 18 months raises the fine to $50 to $250. A third or subsequent violation within 18 months increases the fine to $50 to $450, emphasizing the law’s focus on preventing distracted driving and promoting safety.
What devices fall under § 1225-d?
Devices like hand-held mobile phones, PDAs, laptops, pagers, and similar gadgets fall under § 1225-d, mainly if used for text communication.
Can I use my phone in traffic or at a red light?
§ 1225-d prohibits using a portable electronic device even when temporarily stationary due to traffic or at a red light.
Who are exempt from these prohibitions?
Individuals communicating with emergency services during emergencies and certain personnel like police officers while on duty are exempt.
How can I challenge the presumption of device usage?
You can challenge this presumption by presenting evidence that you weren’t using the device as defined in the section.
What fines does the law impose for violations?
Fines range from $50 to $200 for a first violation, $50 to $250 for a second within 18 months, and $50 to $450 for a third or subsequent within 18 months.
Can a police officer seize my phone if caught violating the law?
§ 1225-d does not authorize the seizure or forfeiture of a portable electronic device unless other laws provide for it.
Do commercial drivers face the same rules and penalties?
Yes, commercial drivers face the same rules and penalties, with additional provisions. They can’t use portable electronic devices even when temporarily stationary on a public highway unless parked legally off or at the side of the highway. Motor carriers also can’t allow or require their drivers to use a portable electronic device while driving.