TEXTING AND CELL PHONES

In an article in the Journal News on December 16, 2014 by Theresa Juva-Brown states that in 2013, 63% of tickets that made their way through New York Courts, 135,738 tickets resulted in guilty as charged convictions. Another 26% of tickets resulted in convictions for other driving violations. The guilty as charged convictions remain high but they have declined since stiffer penalties went into effect in 2013. In 2012, before cell phone violations added 5 points to your license, 72% of tickets processed ended with guilty as charged convictions and 17% resulted in convictions for other driving violations. (Plea down the cell phone ticket). However, now that the 5 points are added to your violations, you get more people fighting the tickets.

The number of cell phone tickets issued is on a downward trend. (Hopefully people are obeying the cell phone laws). During the first seven months of 2014, 152,188 tickets were issued for violating cell phone and texting laws. Before the steeper penalties, people would begrudgingly plead guilty and paid the fines. Now that they are facing up to 5 points, they call a traffic attorney. Without records to show you were not using the phone at the time the ticket was issued or a witness to support your claim of not using the cell phone, the Court will find you guilty. The monetary penalties are also getting steeper. New York State fines to a maximum of $200 for the first offense and up to $450 for three time offenders. In New York City Traffic Court, they will not let you plea to a lesser charge to avoid the highest penalties. Therefore, you have more traffic trials. People getting tickets for the first time are seeing that it’s not just that you can’t talk or text, you need to keep your hands off the phone and on your wheel.

Last month, New York State also tightened penalties for young drivers caught with a handheld electronic device. Drivers under 21 with a texting or talking while driving conviction will have their junior license or permit revoked for 120 days. If they receive a second conviction in six months, their license or permit is suspended for one year.

In another article in The Journal News on November 24, 2013 by K.L. Valent, deals with cell phone use while walking states it is beyond an epidemic. People don’t watch where they’re walking or pay attention to their surroundings. In October, 2014, 40% of more than 1,000 teens said they had been hit or nearly hit by a car while walking and 85% of those said they were listening to music or talking on their phones or texting when it happened.

Researcher Jack Nasar at the University of Ohio calculated that more than 1,500 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms in 2010 for injuries suffered while using their cell phones. A few minutes of observation showed many people head down, fingers flying as they walked on Main Street, White Plains, New York. A construction manager in White Plains calls them “crawlers”, people who walk slowly because their busy with their phones. Dr. Barry Smith, Director of Emergency Medicine a St. Joseph’s Medical Center has lots of orthopedic injuries that occur when people are walking and get tripped up on the sidewalk and fall hitting their head. Texting while walking added to the problem when people don’t realize that it takes a car going 35 mph, more than 170 feet to stop. They wounded walkers in Nasar’s study included a teen who fell into a rocky ditch when he walked off a bridge.

In a survey reported by Theresa Juva-Brown states 63% of drivers are more likely to use their cell phones stopped at red lights than during other times behind the wheel. The study was released by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company that states 30% of the drivers said they were more likely to fiddle with their phone on an open highway. 90% of drivers said they were less likely to touch their phone when it is icy, snowy or foggy. 70% of drivers said they use their smart phones for GPS and listen to directions versus 41% in 2009 relied on their GPS. 54% of the people supported prison sentences for drivers who caused a fatal crash. 36% supported license suspension/revocation for drivers who caused a crash with serious injury.

If you, or someone you know, have been injured as a result of cell phone use or texting, please contact the Law Office of Dominick J. Robustelli & Associates, PLLC. You can reach us at (914) 288-0800.