NY State Bans Texting, Gaming, Surfing While Driving

The New York State Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bill which bans texting, playing video games or surfing the Internet while driving, reports Buffalo Business First.

The measure, which previously was approved by the New York Assembly, now goes to Gov. David Paterson, who is expected to sign it into law. If so, the new regulations will take effect in November.

Newsday offers a comment from bill sponsor Sen. Martin Dilan (D):

This is a long-overdue safety measure for New York. Texting and burgeoning [portable electronic] technologies continue to pose serious, and sometimes fatal, distractions to drivers of all ages.

Violators of the new law will be subject to a $150 fine. However, the ban on portable electronics is considered a secondary offense, which means that it could only be levied if a driver is pulled over for another violation.

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  1. MrAnderson says:


    One might think it is obvious that you should not do these things while operating a vehicle, or anything in which that the kind of distraction could make a particularly hazardous situation.

    Unfortunately, there are people who will play with their lives and other peoples when driven by an insatiable desire to do something stupid. Do I hear a bell ring for a new market segment for a hands free txt msg dictation mobile app. Dragon Natural Speak for the mobile devices, here it comes? Uhm… as for games and surfing the web… people don’t you have something more important to do, like driving! I’m just glad the legislation did not give you any excuses. Another case where common sense could be absent. Geez

  2. Nitherean says:

    Texting, surfing the net, and playing games, all from the convience of one’s cellphone or blackberry serves to prove only one thing:

    The Theory of Evolution marchs on.  That’s right folks, the only people that seem to die from someone being to stupid to exist (read: waste of oxygen), are the ones that show the survival of the human race is by those who dont do any of these things while driving.  Its simply to bad, that others die, because someone is to busy to drive their car safely.

    Dont even try to sell me on the idea, that there are people who are pro’s at driving while using a cellphone/blackberry while driving one handed, at 70 mph.  I’ve seen enough idiots on the road to prove the theory exists and is quite correct.

    Its also to bad, the concept is so entrenched in to our minds, that to not do it, is unthinkable.  That is why laws are created, for behavior that is bad, to be corrected.  Just like with murder.  You can kill who ever you want, however, there are serious consequences to doing it.  So, maybe the law just needs to take a severe take to handle this problem.

    I propose an automatic $1K fine.  $500 goes to the state to which the charge was place, and $500 to the town to which the officer belongs to.  In the case of state troopers, $500 goes to charity and the other $500 to officer’s party fun.  That’s right, those officers will hunt down anyone and EVERYONE not paying attention to the road.  Now if $1K seems a bit excessive.  Please, put a cost to a human life, because someone was to stupid to think for themselves.

  3. jedidethfreak says:

    Because it would not only make sense, but it would also require you to actually be doing something, whereas there is the possibility of getting a ticket just for having your cellphone or laptop on the passenger seat.  They’ll get more money in fines the way it is.

    Freedom of speech means the freedom to say ANYTHING, so long as it is the truth. This does not exclude anything that might hurt someone’s feelings.

  4. Vinzent says:

    Why not just ban multi-tasking while driving? Then the cover any and all eventualities that may occur in the future instead of wasting taxpayer money on new legislation everytime a new technology emerges.

  5. Harry Miste says:

    yo dawg we heard you like texting, gaming and surfing so we put an internet in your car so you can text, game and surf while you drive

    Isn’t this bill just an enforcement of common sense?

    | XBOX LIVE GamerTag: Harry Miste | Steam ID: Harry Miste | PSN ID: HarryMiste |

  6. SeanB says:

    I bet the majority of crashes caused by cel-phones are from when the phone rings, and someone has to dive into a purse or backpack to get the phone out before it stops ringing.

    But yes, headsets would help too.

  7. Doomsong says:

    Note to self… no Teen Wolf re-enactments in Texas.

    "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety" – Benjamin Franklin

  8. JustChris says:

    People that play games, watch movies, etc. while driving are just undisputed idiots, but for talking, come on…don’t be cheapskates. What’s a $20 headset going to do to your wallet? Get one of those and stop juggling your phone with your steering wheel/gear shifter.


  9. Austin_Lewis says:

    It’s called Prima Facie; in such situations, unlike other situations, YOU have to prove your innocence, rather than the government needing to prove your guilt.  This puts a great burden on the defendant, especially because, in cases like using a cell phone while driving, there is no way to know if one was, say, playing games on it, or using it to figure out what that song on the radio was.

  10. jedidethfreak says:

    In America, probable cause is enough to issue a citation.  That’s why you can be given a seat belt ticket for taking your seat belt off after being pulled over but before the cop comes up to your car.  Also, minor traffic violations aren’t usually considered criminal offenses, but civil offenses, leaving the defendant to prove he or she didn’t do what they are accused of, versus the government having to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did.

    Freedom of speech means the freedom to say ANYTHING, so long as it is the truth. This does not exclude anything that might hurt someone’s feelings.

  11. Chuma says:

    They already do this in Europe, and they use phone records and in-car camera footage to prove people were using the devices.

  12. Larington says:

    If it’s a mobile, they can probably get records from the phone company as to whether or not you were receiving calls or sending texts at the time the fine was recorded. So it would be feasible to contest that particular circumstance. I’m pretty sure however that only the most crooked of cops would use the fine outside of the context of a serious incident like an injury or fatality.

  13. chadachada321 says:

    I’m gonna side with Austin on this one though. Cop sees a phone on your dash, says "enjoy your fine" and there isn’t shit that you can do about it. Court will never side with you unless you can take it high enough that the law can be ruled "vague" which won’t ever happen. Enjoy your extra fines =/

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  14. SeanB says:

    Yeah, quoting one part of the article, and ignoring the specifics in the other part, is defined as "TAKING IT OUT OF CONTEXT"

    Your welcome.

  15. Austin_Lewis says:

    "Violators of the new law will be subject to a $150 fine. However, the ban on portable electronics is considered a secondary offense, which means that it could only be levied if a driver is pulled over for another violation."

    I’m sorry, what were you saying?  

    Oh, and by the way, if the law is vague (which, let’s face it, many are), it will basically be a ban on portable electronics visible in the car.  Cops will argue (and idiots will agree) that simply having a cell phone out means you were playing with it, even if it wasn’t in your hand.  They’ll say that the fact that the phone wasn’t in your pocket was proof enough you were texting or gaming or surfing, and that you exited the program before the cop came up to the car (which can take a while on busy roads).

  16. Larington says:

    In the UK theres a "Driving without due care and attention charge", despite that I think they’ve still instituted a fine for driving whilst using your phone, but I don’t think folks get pulled over for that very often.

  17. DraginHikari says:

    Depends on the techincallities of the law… if a law specifics only very specific type of activity it may require a new law.  Laws get revised like this often.

  18. Bennett Beeny says:

    Surely there were laws on the books before this that covered general distractions.  I mean why do we need a new law to cover stuff that was surely already illegal?  I mean the real problem is that the police don’t enforce such stuff.  Making a new law is not going to change that.

  19. chadachada321 says:

    Er…it is unconstitutional, even if the courts won’t support you. Courts supported…oh idk…plessy vs ferguson, even though that is clearly unconstitutional.

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  20. SeanB says:

    well you’d be wrong yet again. It is permissable to ban the use of toxic chemicals while in the vacinity of children.

    Smoking cigarettes will never be a constitutionally protected right.

  21. Austin_Lewis says:

    I have a feeling that a smoking ban in a vehicle with children is unenforcable because its unconstitutional. 

  22. Craig R. says:

    My state recently considered whether to pass a cell phone/texting ban on drivers, but decided not to. Frankly, it pisses me off because I’m sick and tired of, as a pedestrian and bicyclist, being nearly run over on a regular basis by dumbass drivers who are too busy talking/typing to drive.

  23. Bennett Beeny says:

    It’s certainly ‘possible’ to text while driving.  The point of the law is that it’s not possible to do it without losing some factor of safety, and in a situation (driving) in which otherwise safe drivers have accidents, it’s very important that ALL a driver’s extra attention be focused on the task of driving safely.

    There is no absolute safe level of driving.  It’s always risky, and if you stop concentrating for even a millisecond, you can cause a fatal accident.

    In other words, if the world’s greatest military jet pilot is texting while driving, it doesn’t matter how professional he is, he STILL isn’t devoting enough attention to the road.

  24. SeanB says:

    It’s easy to enforce

    "Oh, look at mr speedy there doing XX over the limit, oh and BONUS! He’s also got his eyes on the PDA in front of him!"

    It’s the same as the people who say you cannot enforce Cigarette bans in vehicles with children as a secondary offense. You pull someone over for Speeding, improper plates, etc etc etc, and as you approach they open the window and smoke comes out. BONUS!

    As for your book comment, your probably right, but i think they’re going after the biggest problems first. Many states and countries simply have "distracted driving laws" that are worded "including but not limited to" so books would be included. New york seems to have laws similar to florida’s drug laws, which require a law against a specific group of chemicals before it’s illegal.

  25. Saxy says:

    Well, I do know that it IS possible to text, etc. while driving, because I know people who handle it like pros, without ever missing a beat of the action on the road. Then again, all of these people have been military pilots, so I imagine multitask-driving is simple to them.

    Although I still wonder about how they will enforce this stuff (for texting, check the cellphone records, duh, but how do you check games?), however, I still think it’s about time this law happens.

    Also, I’d like to propose a book ban while driving, and, for certain people who have already proved accident prone, a loud music ban. I’m not doing this to jump on the "equal treatment of games and literature" bandwagon, but I’ve actually been in near-wrecks where the other guy seemed to be distracted by one of the two above things.


  26. ZippyDSMlee says:

    *sigh* don’t they already have distracted driving laws?


    I am a criminal because I purchase media,I am a criminal because I use media, I am a criminal because I chose to own media..We shall remain criminals until Corporate stay’s outside our bedrooms..


  27. cppcrusader says:

    It’s not a ban on portable electronics in the car, just using them to text, access the internet or play games while driving.

  28. Austin_Lewis says:

    So wait.  This is a ban on portable electronics in the car?  That’s fantastic; now the police in NY can add 150 dollars to the fine everytime they pull someone over.  Hell, when I drive, I keep my cell phone on the dashboard.  I don’t doubt that would be misconstrued as ‘you were using this to text or surf, here’s your extra 150 fine’.

  29. SeanB says:

    I agree, they should be primary offenses. In a police car with 2 officers, the second officer is usually checking plates, tags, speeds, etc. It’s easy to look over and say "Hey, that guys texting, hit the lights!"

  30. ryagor says:

    Yea thats a little wierd. They passed a law like this in New Jersey a year or two ago, but I’m pretty sure that its a primary offense.

  31. jedidethfreak says:

    Since this law is supposedly going after the act of using electronic devices in a vehicle, I’m curious why it’s not a primary offense.  I mean, that’s like saying "Using it is illegal, but if a police officer gets it on video tape of you breaking the law, you have to break ANOTHER law to get into trouble for it."

    Freedom of speech means the freedom to say ANYTHING, so long as it is the truth. This does not exclude anything that might hurt someone’s feelings.

  32. Defenestrator says:

    It’s sadly necessary because idiots that do this pose a risk to people on the road.  Currently, the idiots can not be fined for being idiots because there is no law against it.

    I’m very much a "keep the government out of my business" kind of person, but I’ve nearly been run off the road on a number of occasions by idiots who were:

    1) Watching TV while driving

    2) Trying to do … something … on a computer (she had a laptop propped up on the steering wheel of her car).

    3) Texting.


    I’d rather not die in a fiery wreck because some jackass decided that sending a text message was far more important than paying attention to where they were pointing their 2 ton vehicle at 70 miles per hour.

  33. Philippe says:

    If you can’t be bothered to pay attention while driving, you shouldn’t be driving.

    No exceptions.

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