The state of New York bans the use of handheld phones and texting.Note: Under both laws, holding electronic devices is a presumption of use. As of October 2012, under both laws, a driver violating the law commits a primary offense and receives a fine and a 3-point penalty on his or her driver's license.
On-duty emergency, medical, and law enforcement personnel are exempt.
All drivers are prohibited from engaging in calls on mobile phones or electronic devices requiring the use of one hand while operating a motor vehicle that is in motion (NY Vehicle and Traffic Code Sec. 1225-c). Calls from hands-free devices are permitted.
Drivers are allowed to make calls from handheld phones and electronic devices to report an emergency or call an ambulance or the fire or police department.
All drivers are prohibited from using portable electronic devices to compose, send, or write text messages or e-mails; view, take, or transmit images; play games; or view or transmit other electronic data while operating a vehicle in motion (NY Vehicle and Traffic Code Sec. 1225-d).
New York allows localities to pass ordinances stricter than the state laws, especially with regard to fines. Over 15 counties and many cities, including Albany, Ithaca, and Syracuse, have enacted their own distracted driving legislation. New York City prohibits cab and limousine drivers from talking or texting on a cell phone while operating the vehicle.