Two-point penalty in effect for cell talk while driving

| 22 Feb 2012 | 04:58

    Albany - Anyone caught driving and talking on a cell phone without a headset in New York will gain two points on their driving record — which means higher insurance costs. The New York Department of Motor Vehicles announced the change this week. Previously, no points were assigned for talking on a cell phone, while a two point penalty has been assigned for texting while driving violations. The new regulation, which went into effect on Feb. 16, will align the point penalties for both violations. Ten years ago, New York became the first state in the nation to adopt a statewide ban on handheld cell phone use while driving in 2001, according to In 2009, a law eliminating the use of portable electronic devices for texting while driving took effect, a violation that currently has two points attached to it along with a $150 fine. If a New York driver gets 11 points within 18 months, higher auto insurance costs and a suspension of a driver’s license are possible. In New York, driver distraction is a contributing factor in at least one out of five crashes, officials say. Each year over 300,000 tickets are issued statewide for cell phone violations. “Distracted driving is one of the most serious dangers on our roadways today,” said J. David Sampson, DMV executive deputy commissioner. “By strengthening the current law, our hope is that motorists will become even more aware of the potential consequences of their actions if they use a cell phone while driving.”