The penalty for driving while using a cellular phone or any portable electronic device (i.e. Tablet, GPS device, texting) is now 5 DMV points. Your first step in preserving your rights is to contact an experienced traffic attorney. An experienced traffic attorney can review the facts surrounding the incident and make an informed decision as to the best way to proceed.
In many jurisdictions on Long Island, it is possible with the help of an attorney to have the underlying charge, pursuant to Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) 1225(c) or (d) reduced from the 5 points to a reduced charge. This reduction can help reduce the potential significant increase a conviction under this statute would have for your auto insurance premium. It is also important to note that 6 points of your record during any 18 month period will result in a DMV-imposed Driver Responsibility Fee starting at $300.00 ($100 for 3 years) and increase depending on the number of points over and above the 6.
Furthermore, if you have a prior conviction of driving while using a mobile device, there may not be an opportunity for the prosecution to offer a reduction and may insist that the motorist plea to the charge. However, there are several methods by which an experienced traffic attorney can cross-examine the officer which may raise doubt as to whether the offense was committed. There can be issues as to length of time the officer observed you, where the device was located in proximity to your person, or whether there was some medical emergency that necessitated the use of said device. You would need to provide documentation to establish that the nature of said phone call was of an emergency nature.
Generally speaking, the traffic courts in Nassau and Suffolk County will treat a violation of VTL 1225(d) (i.e. texting while driving) more harshly than VTL 1225(c) (driving while using phone). The reason behind this stance is that one is usually more distracted when their eyes are averted from the road via use of a smartphone/GPS device as opposed to talking on the phone. Nonetheless, distracted driving is a danger on the road and the courts and prosecutors take both offenses seriously.