It's now illegal to text or call while sitting at a stop sign, a red light, or in a traffic a jam. YNN's Geoff Redick reports.
ALBANY, N.Y. - In a quiet change to New York's Vehicle & Traffic Law, a new statute took effect Monday, outlawing any use of electronic devices while stopped at a stop sign, red light, or in a traffic jam. Previously, using phones in those situations was legal, as state law had only prohibited the use of cell phones and other devices while operating a moving vehicle.
State Vehicle & Traffic Law Section 1225-D, Paragraph 4 now states: "A person who holds a portable electronic device in a conspicuous manner while operating a motor vehicle on a public highway, including while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays is presumed to be using such device."
"Where in the past, there was an expectation that if you were stopped it was okay, that's clearly been spelled out now by this law," says attorney Thomas DiNovo with the O'Connell & Aronoqitz law firm. "It's no longer okay."
In pointing out that past laws only outlawed using the phone "while operating" your vehicle, DiNovo said the former definition of the term "operating" was unclear.
"There may have been this thought that 'operation means motion,'" says DiNovo. "So now by adding what (the state has added), they've specifically said this applies if you're stopped in traffic."
YNN reached out to the State Department of Motor Vehicles for comment Monday. Vehicle & Traffic Law law falls under that agency's jurisdiction. Requests to speak to DMV management about Section 1125-D were repeatedly denied.