From fines to penalties to points
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It’s hard to find someone who’s never texted at a red light or been on a phone call while in traffic. Most of us have been guilty of these forms of distracted driving at some point in our driving careers, but in New York state, they could have some serious penalties.
In this article, we’ll go over what happens if you get a texting or cell phone ticket in New York, and how that’ll affect your auto insurance premiums. You’ll think twice before you engage in a call while driving, if the New York Traffic Violations Bureau has anything to say about it.
Texting and driving in New York is no joke. If you get caught, you’ll be subject to fines and other penalties such as points.
For your first texting and driving offense, you could pay anywhere from $50 to $200 in fines. That latter number increases to $250 for your second offense within 18 months, and to $450 for your third offense and up within the same time period.
|Violation||Minimum fine||Maximum fine|
|Second offense within 1 year and a half||$50||$250|
|Third or more offense within 1 year and a half||$50||$450|
Aside from fines, you’ll get points added to your driving record. For crimes committed after June 1, 2013, you’ll get five driver violation points.
Other penalties apply to Class DJ drivers, Class MJ drivers, and learner’s permit drivers.
Class DJ and MJ drivers aren’t allowed to drive in New York City until they turn 18, while 17-year-olds can drive in NYC if they get their Class D adult license through completion of a state education course.1
As of Nov. 1, 2014, a first conviction will suspend these drivers’ licenses or permits for 120 days, or four months. A second conviction within six months of the license or permit being restored will result in a revocation of either the probationary license or the Class DJ license, Class MJ license, or learner’s permit for a year.
On top of the fines and penalties, drivers will have to pay the Driver Responsibility Assessment Fee (DRAF) over a three-year period if they’ve received six or more points in an 18-month period. The purpose of the DRAF is to prevent repeated problematic driving behavior and improve overall safety.
|Number of points||Annual assessment||3-year assessment|
If you don’t pay the DRAF, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will suspend your driver’s license, learner’s permit, or driver privileges.
These are the laws surrounding texting and driving in the state of New York:
The one exception to these rules is for commercial motor vehicles stopped at the side of or off a public highway where they’re not prohibited by law, or if a police officer directs them to stop. However, this won’t apply to most people driving for personal reasons.
Vision Zero is an official New York City policy that began in 2014 in hopes of ending traffic injuries and deaths. One of the ways that Vision Zero prevents these injuries and deaths is through enforcement against dangerous violations, like talking on the phone or texting while driving.3
As of 2021, about 3,000 people in New York City are seriously injured in car accidents every year, while over 200 are killed in crashes, according to city records.
In New York, auto insurance isn’t cheap (unless you’re using one of the cheapest New York auto insurance providers). In general, accidents cause auto insurance costs to increase. The higher the rate of accidents, the more claims insurance companies have to pay. Rather than dipping into their own pockets, the insurers pass these costs on to the customers in the form of higher premiums.
While the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) claims that they base this information on traffic violations and accidents from driving records, which explains the 16 percent increase in premiums since 2011,4 we found some conflicting data.
|Year||Number of deaths from distracted driving||Average expenditures for auto insurance|
In combining NAIC data on auto insurance expenditures with data from the U.S. Department of Transportation,6 we found that even though the number of deaths from distracted driving decreased by 6 percent from 2011 to 2019, the average expenditures for auto insurance steadily increased by 3 percent overall. While the average expenditures increased every year, the number of distracted driving deaths peaked in 2015 and has been decreasing steadily ever since.
It’s not entirely clear why the average cost of auto insurance keeps rising, but the correlation with distracted driving deaths isn’t direct. Learn what factors affect the cost of auto insurance.
New York takes texting and driving seriously; if you do it, you’ll have to pay a minimum of $50 for your first texting violation. So, next time you’re on a cell phone while driving, put it away, as you might incur a traffic ticket.
If you want to learn more about driving in New York, read our articles on whether you need New York car registration for car insurance. If you’re traveling across the country, read about the fines for texting and driving in California, another one of our auto insurance FAQs.
New York City junior license restriction. New York Department of Motor Vehicles. (2022).
Legislation. The New York State Senate. (2015, Oct 9).
Enforcement. New York City Vision Zero. (2022).
DISTRACTED DRIVING. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. (2021 Sept 22).
Distracted Driving 2019. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2021, Apr).
Distracted Driving 2018. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2020 April).