What Are Your Rights? New York Could Ban Texting While Crossing The Street

Announcer: The following segment is sponsored by Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.

Melissa: A new bill that is currently in the New York State Senate is looking to ban texting while crossing the street. A similar bill was previously introduced in the state assembly last year but was stalled and failed to progress. Here to help examine this issue is Managing Partner, Paul Harding from the law firm of Martin, Harding and Mazzotti. Paul, welcome.

Paul: Thank you.

Melissa: Nice to see you again.

Paul: Nice to be here.

Melissa: All right, so is this a ban on texting and walking?

Paul: Yes, so not quite, but it’s gonna feel like that. So what the rule says, if you are on your phone texting or if you’re playing a video game or trying to do a Google search and you cross the street, you will be given a ticket. Now you can walk across the street on a telephone call but if you’re looking down, you’re gonna violate the law if this law passes.

Melissa: All right. So let’s talk about some of the penalties. What would someone who violated this law actually face?

Paul: So fines, the first time it’s 50, the second one up to 100, the third one up to $250, so it’s gonna be more of a financial penalty than it is anything, no criminal component to it but they’re gonna be enforcing it if this passes.

Melissa: Now it doesn’t matter if, say, you’re talking to someone on the phone, you have them on speaker and you just so happen to be looking down at the phone?

Paul: Well, you know, now it becomes a question of proof, right? But if you’re on it, you’re allowed to make the call but as you’re looking down at that call and doing some things, they could say you were…so similar to that driving and texting, right? I would say, “How do they know? How do they…?” Well, they kind of watch you look down at your phone and then you sort of end up telling them the truth when they pull you over.

Melissa: Got It. All right. So is there any sort of precedent for this type of law?

Paul: There really isn’t. So, you know, the incident of pedestrian injuries and death is just undeniably has gone through the roof since the smartphone is in people’s hands as they are crossing the street. So this is just an attempt to try to make it safe or make people more conscious but no, we’d be the first state to bring it.

Melissa: All right. That’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Paul: We’ll see if it passes.

Melissa: All right. Paul, thank you so much for being here.

Paul: You’re welcome.