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Cellphone use has become so prevalent throughout our society, and viewed as a necessary tool for living and functioning in a modern world, that it is not uncommon to hear a person consider a lost cellphone or a low battery as a personal crisis.

The regular use of a cellphone, whether talking, texting, or using one of the many features the device provides, has forced many state legislatures -- including New York -- to institute penalties for those who engage in such activity while driving. 

The publicity that the law against driving and cellphone use has received has been successful in putting people on notice, but it is still possible that many people are unaware of the consequences of violating this relatively new law.

New York law governing traffic violations makes it clear that the use of a cellphone while driving is prohibited. The penalty for a non-commercial driver and first-time offender is a fine between $50 and $150. These amounts increase with subsequent violations that are committed within 18 months of each other. The penalty also adds five points to your driving record and can negatively affect your motor vehicle insurance. If you get 11 points in 18 months, stemming from any type of traffic violation including using a hand-held phone while driving, your license can be suspended.

An interesting note is that there is an exception for the use of a cellphone while driving if the driver uses a cellphone to call 911 during an emergency.

As technology progresses, the law must evolve along with it. Often during transition periods with new technology there is confusion and uncertainty about what is prohibited. If you find yourself facing a traffic violation concerning cellphone use, consulting with an experienced attorney can help to identify the best course of action so you can protect your driving record. 

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