Saturday, February 12, 2011

New point violations - cell phones and texting

Just read that cell phone violations will now count for 2 points on a NY driving record. The recent texting law also carries 2 points.

Also, there is a new law this year requiring cars to "move over" when passing an emergency vehicle on the side of the road. Read more at the Utica Observer Dispatch.

You can also read about the cell phone points change on the Times Union. Please note that I disagree with so many things in the article I actually sent an e-mail to the reporter. Here were my comments:

1. Cell phones on the road are not a "deadly epidemic". Traffic deaths are down dramatically over the years: USA Today.

Considering that 20 years ago cell phones were almost non-existent and now are everywhere, the idea that they're a deadly epidemic should mean a lot more deaths, not less.

2. Points are not an incentive to drivers before they get the ticket. Most have no idea what the points are until after. The point system is also idiotic. Example:

Points for going 76 in a 65: 4 points
Points for running a red light: 3 points

Most people would agree that running a red light is more dangerous than going 76 in a 65.

3. Repeat offenders will still get reductions on cell phone tickets. I represent many drivers, some with clean records and others with horrendous records. Sometimes the record doesn't matter at all, and sometimes the clean record means a better deal, but I get reductions on almost every case, probably 99% or more.

4. Following on that, this line is utter nonsense:
"After a driver pleads down once ... the driver stands little chance of avoiding the points for a second offense."

If you plead a cell phone ticket down to a parking ticket, the parking ticket doesn't show up on a driving record. So neither the prosecutor not the judge will know about it. Even if it happened in the same court, they still probably wouldn't notice.

5. A cell phone ticket should not increase insurance premiums if it's the only thing on your record. Insurance Law § 2335 sets the rules on what tickets can raise rates. It could raise rates if you had something else on your record, but that gets complicated to explain.

6. You get your license suspended if you get 11 points in 18 months, but if you take defensive driving that knocks off 4 points (but only for that specific purpose). So it's rare to see a suspension for less than 15 points (you get notice of the suspension before it kicks in, so you can usually take the class in time). You can also get revoked if you get three speeding convictions (or two work-zone speeding convictions) in 18 months. Revoked is worse than suspended in a couple ways.
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