NY Cell Phone Law for Bicyclists?

February 22, 2011 · by rosenblumlawfirm · in

New York’s new cell phone law that imposes two points in addition to a fine has received much attention in the news and on the web. Read more.

In recent months, the news and web have been buzzing about police cracking down on bicyclists disobeying traffic laws.  We have reported about bicyclists receiving tickets in Albany and New York City.

Interestingly, the language of New York’s 2-point cell phone law, VTL 1225(c) (and VTL 1225 (d) which applies to all electronic devices) applies strictly to motor vehicles.  Presently, NY bicyclists are not prohibited from hand-held cell phones like NY motorists.

A quick survey of the USA shows that lawmakers are beginning to turn to bicyclists and restricting their use of cell phones and electronic devices.

When Billings, Montana passed a city ordinance banning text messaging and hand-held cell phones while driving, the city government specifically included motorcycles and bicycles.  First offense fines range from $110 to $300 and then up to $500.

In May 2009, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania also prohibited bicyclists, motorcyclists, skaters and skateboarders from talking on handheld cell phones while driving.  Tickets include fines of $150 to $300.

One year later, Allentown, Pennsylvania extended its hand-held cell phone law to skateboarders, inline skaters and bicyclists. Again, fines range from $150 to $300.

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania followed with fines of $75 for riding bicycles while talking on a phone or texting.

On the state level, in Oregon, state Rep. Michael Schaufler filed a bill to ban bicyclists from using smartphones, MP3 players, radios, CD players and the like.  The fine for such unsafe operation of a bicycle would be $90.

In Virginia, HB 1404 intends to extent Virginia’s text messaging ban to bicycles, mopeds “electric personal assistive mobility

devices.”   The law would be subject to primary enforcement which means that police could pull over a bicyclist and ticket him/her for that reason alone (as opposed to halting the bicyclist for running a red light and then giving him/her an additional ticket for driving and texting).

In Arkansas, a state senator originally suggested legislation to limit headphone use by bicyclists and pedestrians.  After a bombardment of citizen complaints, he lowered the restriction to one ear only

Similarly, California Sen. Joe Simitian partially backpedaled from his bill to issue distracted driving fines for bicyclists after a wave of complaints from riders. Although Sen. Simitian’s 2010 legislation failed, it was reintroduced in 2011 with lower fines ($20/$50). Currently, California does not have a distracted driving law for bicyclists.

Whether you are a motorist that has been issued a ticket for violating New York’s new cell phone law or bicyclist facing a red-light ticket, the Rosenblum Law Firm can help.  Our clients beat their tickets and walk away from traffic court with reduced charges, lower fines and fewer points.  Email or call 888-815-3649 to speak to an attorney directly.