New State Law Bans Texting and Emailing While Driving

Many, if not most, of us have cell phones or other personal digital assistants (PDA) and we take them with us while we drive.  A law has been on the books for some time now that makes it illegal to drive while using a cell phone without a hands-free device.  Governor Paterson recently signed a law that makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle while using any portable electronic device while the vehicle is in motion.  This new law took effect on November 1, 2009. 


The law defines “portable electronic device” to include the following: hand-held mobile phone, 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. 


The law also defines the term “using” to mean the following: viewing, taking or transmitting images; playing games; or composing, sending, reading, viewing, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving or retrieving e-mail, text messages, or other electronic data. 


There are some exceptions to this law.  The law will not apply if you are using the portable electronic device for the sole purpose of communicating with an emergency response operator; hospital; physician’s office or health clinic; ambulance company or corps; fire department, district or company; or police department.  Also, the law will not apply to police officers, peace officers, members of a fire department, district or company, or the operators of authorized emergency vehicles while these individuals are performing their official duties.  


If you are ticketed for breaking this law, you may be punished by a fine up to $150.  In order to be ticketed for breaking this law, you must have committed another offense such as speeding, disobeying a traffic signal or some other violation. 


At one time or another, you have probably seen someone texting or emailing while they drive.  These drivers are distracted from what should be their primary focus – driving.  Too many accidents occur because a driver is distracted – don’t let that driver be you.