New York State Local Technical Assistance Program

Does the law about cell phone usage and texting apply to government workers?


Article 33 Miscellaneous Rules of the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law addresses the “Use of mobile phones” and the “Use of portable electronic devices” in Sections 1225-C and 1225-D, respectively. Both sections identify the same situation and/or persons that are exempt from the use of a mobile phone or electronic device, in each case the use is acceptable only for emergency use and emergency communication. Paragraph (3) of both sections states the following:

“3. Subdivision two of this section shall not apply to (a) the use of a mobile telephone for the sole purpose of communicating with any of the following regarding an emergency situation: an emergency response operator; a hospital, physician's office or health clinic; an ambulance company or corps; a fire department, district or company; or a police department, (b) any of the following persons while in the performance of their official duties: a police officer or peace officer; a member of a fire department, district or company; or the operator of an authorized emergency vehicle as defined in section one hundred one of this chapter, or (c) the use of a hands-free mobile telephone.”

Cross section of pavement with safety edge
Photo by Ed Poor

Therefore, government employees are not exempt from the law in the use of cell phones unless participating in the situations described above. Also, as of July 12, 2011 “there will be 2 driver penalty points, in addition to the fine of $150 for violations of the cell phone law.”


NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law, Title 7: Rules of the Road, Article 33.
Section 1225-C
Section 1225-D

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License icon

This work by the Cornell Local Roads Program (CLRP) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.