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Distracted driving has been a serious issue of concern due to its alarming contribution to road accidents. In response, various legal provisions such as New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1225-c and 1225-d have been instituted to control this growing menace. These laws, if misunderstood or misapplied, could lead to complications that may result in undeserved charges or penalties. This blog aims to shed light on the intricacies of these laws and help drivers to better understand their rights and obligations.

Understanding NY Vehicle and Traffic Law 1225-C and 1225-D

Sections 1225-c and 1225-d are both designed to prevent distracted driving, albeit in different capacities. While 1225-c strictly prohibits the use of mobile phones for calls while driving, 1225-d goes further to outlaw the use of portable electronic devices for functions such as texting or accessing webpages.

Although cell phones are covered under both sections due to their multiple uses, they have distinct implications. For instance, if a driver is caught talking on the phone, a charge should be brought under section 1225-c, and if the driver was texting, section 1225-d would apply.

A recent case, People v. Scanlon (Town of Webster Justice Court 2019), highlighted the importance of charging under the correct section, leading to dismissal of the charge as the driver was accused of talking on the phone but was wrongly charged under section 1225-d.

Defining Key Terms

Interpretation of certain terms within these statutes is key to understanding their application. For instance, under 1225-d, a “portable electronic device” goes beyond mobile phones to include personal digital assistants, laptops, electronic games and any other electronic device used to input, write, send, receive, or read text for present or future communication.

In the case of People v. Ingber (Appellate Term, 2017), a charge for dictating into a digital voice recorder while driving was dismissed, as the device did not communicate text but recorded audio, hence falling outside the scope of the statute.

Presumption of Use and the Conspicuous Manner

A significant point in 1225-d is the ‘rebuttable presumption’ that holding a listed device in a conspicuous manner while driving is presumed to be using the device. This provision has raised constitutional concerns due to its vagueness and the shift in burden it places on the defendant to prove non-use.

Exceptions and Penalties

It’s important to remember that the law is violated only if the vehicle is in motion. For instance, a driver can use a device while the vehicle is stopped at an intersection. However, drivers of commercial vehicles are held to a higher standard and are prohibited from using devices even while stationary due to traffic.

The law also makes exceptions for emergencies, and violation cannot lead to seizure or forfeiture of the device. Fines range from $50-$200 for the first conviction, $50-$250 for the second violation within 18 months, or $50-$450 for the third or subsequent violation within 18 months.

In Conclusion

Understanding NY Vehicle and Traffic Law 1225-d can help you navigate through the complex world of distracted driving charges. If you find yourself facing a charge related to this law, it’s important to seek legal advice to ensure your rights are protected. Contact our experienced traffic law attorneys today, and let’s help you navigate this potentially confusing area of law.

Disclaimer: This blog post is meant for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Always consult with a lawyer for personal advice.