Distracted Driving

New York Distracted Driving Laws

New York laws for cell phone usage were first enacted in 2001, and NY was one of the first states which restricted drivers from using cell phones while driving. Laws have changed since, and are much more restrictive today with greater punishments.

Using cell phones while driving is regulated by New York Vehicle & Traffic laws, Article 33: Miscellaneous Rules, Section 1225-c and 1225-d.

New York Distracted Driving laws summary:

You may not use a phone or other device while driving, unless:

  1. you use a hands-free device
  2. device is attached to vehicle dashboard or other surface

New York only makes an exception for communicating with emergency services. If you call police or fire department or other emergency service you are exempted from these restrictions. Authorized emergency personnel during an emergency may also use phones while driving.

Section 1224-d defines the type of devices you may not use, and what using them means:

(a) “Portable electronic device” shall mean any hand-held mobile telephone, as defined by subdivision one of section twelve hundred twenty-five-c of this article, personal digital assistant (PDA), handheld device with mobile data access, laptop computer, pager, broadband personal communication device, two-way messaging device, electronic game, or portable computing device, or any other electronic device when used to input, write, send, receive, or read text for present or future communication.

(b) “Using” shall mean holding a portable electronic device while viewing, taking or transmitting images, playing games, or, for the purpose of present or future communication: performing a command or request to access a world wide web page, composing, sending, reading, viewing, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving or retrieving e-mail, text messages, instant messages, or other electronic data.

Other restrictions

  • New York distracted driving laws further restrict drivers from using phones while temporarily stationary because of traffic. That means you may not use a phone while waiting for traffic lights or similar.
  • Taxi cab drivers are prohibited from using mobile phones while driving, and the penalty is $350.
  • Young drivers under age 18 are prohibited from using phones with the same restrictions, but they have additional penalties for violating distracted driving laws.


Breaking distracted driving laws is considered a traffic infraction. Each single violation within an 18-month period carries the following fines:

  • First violation: $50 to $200
  • Second violation: $50 to $250
  • Third violation: $50 to $450

Up to $93 in additional surcharges is also required for each offense. In addition to financial fines, each violation will furthermore add 5 driver penalty points. With 11 penalty points accumulated in 18 months your drivers license may be suspended.

References and sources:

Calling or texting while driving has been proven countless times to be very unsafe. New York laws are very specific and do not permit drivers using any electronic devices without a hands-free mode.

Basic headset allowing hands free communication costs less than violating the law even once.

This page about New York Distracted Driving Laws is up to date for 2024. If any of our information is incomplete or outdated please let us know. Thank you!