Getting your driver’s license entails a lot of responsibility — and these go beyond knowing how to safely operate a vehicle.
Your driving ability is one thing — understanding the road rules in New York is another.
This is why, today, we’re going to focus on New York rules of the road. We’ll look at the:
- Move over law
- Bus law
- Parking law
- Cell phone law
- Speed limits
- Car crash law
- Car seat law
- Seat belt law
With this, you’ll know what you can and can’t do when driving in New York.
So shall we?
New York Move Over Law
New York’s Move Over law requires you to slow down and move over for emergency vehicles with flashing lights and sirens — and yes, that is whether the vehicle is charging forward, stopped, or parked on the shoulder of the road.
If there is only one lane for traffic, you need to slow down.
If there are multiple lanes, you must switch to the other lane that the emergency vehicle (or the hazard) doesn’t occupy.
Examples of emergency vehicles include police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, and rescue squad vehicles.
Disobeying the New York Move Over law results in a moving violation with the following penalties:
- Up to $150 for your first offense
- Up to $300 for your second offense (if within 18 months)
- Up to $450 for your third offense (if within 18 months)
- A surcharge of either $88 or $93
- Two points on your NY driving record
New York School Bus Law
If you spot a school bus with flashing red lights, you must stop at least 20 feet from it. This law applies to all vehicles on the road, whether or not you are traveling in the same direction as the school bus.
After stopping for a school bus, you can only resume traveling once it deactivates its flashing red lights. You can also take cues from the bus driver or a law enforcement officer — if either signals you to proceed, you can do so.
However, always keep an eye out for children crossing the street. It’s best to drive slower than usual until you’ve passed them.
Penalties for violating the school bus law in New York vary for vehicle operators and owners. The table below details these.
|Penalties||Vehicle Operators||Vehicle Owners|
|First Conviction / Violation||A fine of $250 to $400 |
Can include up to 30 days in jail
5 points on your record
|A $250 fine|
|Second Conviction / Violation||A fine of $600 to $750 |
Can include up to 180 days in jail
5 points on your record
|A $275 fine|
|Third (and subsequent) Conviction / Violation||A fine of $750 to $1000|
Can include up to 180 days in jail
5 points on your record
|A $300 fine|
If you are the vehicle owner AND operator, you have to carry both penalty fines.
New York Parking Law
It’s crucial to understand that there is a difference between parking, standing, and stopping. So when you encounter signs that prohibit one of these, you will know what you can’t do.
- No Parking: You cannot leave your car unattended in that spot.
- No Standing: You can temporarily stop your vehicle so passengers can ride or get off. However, the driver should never leave the car.
- No Stopping: You are not allowed to stop. The only times you can stop in these areas is if there is a stop sign, a traffic signal, or if a law enforcement officer instructs you to do so.
The table below shows areas in New York where you cannot park, stand or stop.
|Location||No Stopping||No Standing||No Parking|
|Within 15 feet of a fire hydrant.||X||X||X|
|Double parking on the roadside||X||X||X|
|On a sidewalk or in a crosswalk||X||X||X|
|In an intersection, except when signs or parking meters permit it.||X||X||X|
|Next to or opposite road work areas||X||X||X|
|Areas where your vehicle blocks traffic||X||X||X|
|Within 30 feet of a pedestrian safety area, except if a sign indicates a different distance||X||X||X|
|On a bridge or in a tunnel||X||X||X|
|In front of a driveway||X||X|
|Within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection||X||X|
|Within 30 feet of a traffic light, STOP or YIELD sign||X||X|
|Within 20 feet of a fire station driveway||X||X|
|Within 75 feet from a fire station if you’re on the opposite side of the road||X||X|
|Along a cut or lowered curb for accessing the sidewalk||X||X|
|Within 50 feet of a railroad crossing.||X|
|In a designated parking spot for persons with disability, except if you have the correct plates or permit||X|
Falsely claiming to have a disability to get access to a parking spot for persons with disability may lead to the following penalties:
- Fines and civil penalties ranging from $250 to $1,000 each
- A mandatory surcharge of $30
As for the other parking fines, they will vary per municipality. But these still come with a $30 surcharge.
New York Cell Phone Law
To reduce distracted driving, the State of New York State doesn’t allow its drivers to use a mobile phone while behind the wheel.
It means you cannot drive and do any of the following with a handheld phone:
- Engage in a call
- Compose, send, view, read, or access electronic communication
- Browse social media platforms or webpages
- View, take, or send images and videos
- Play games with a portable electronic device
A conviction results in the following penalties:
- First offense: A $50 to $200 fine and 5 points on your record
- Second offense within 18 months: A $50 to $250 fine and 5 points on your record
- Third or subsequent offense within 18 months: A $50 to $450 fine and 5 points on your record
- First offense for drivers with junior licenses – additional 120 days license suspension
- Second offense for drivers with junior licenses within 6 months – additional license revocation for up to a year
NOTE: All these come with a surcharge of up to $93.
You can expect harsher penalties if your distracted driving causes an accident, injury, or death.
However, there are a few exemptions.
New York’s cell phone law doesn’t apply if you’re in an emergency. It also does not apply if you use hands-free (this exemption does not apply to those under 18 years old).
What’s more, it does not apply to law enforcement officers, fire department personnel, and emergency vehicle operators performing official duties.
New York Speed Limits
Most areas in New York post the allowable speed limit. If there isn’t any, a good rule of thumb is to not exceed 55 mph.
It’s important to note that the State of New York factors in road and weather conditions, too.
So, sometimes, a law enforcement officer might give you a ticket if you drive fast in wet or foggy conditions, even if you don’t exceed the posted speed limit.
Driving over the speed limit results in the following penalties:
|Speed Above Limit||Fine||Possible Jail Time|
|Up to 10 mph||$45 to $150||Not more than 15 days|
|More than 10 mph but less than 30 mph||$90 to $300||Not more than 30 days|
|More than 30 mph||$180 to $600||Not more than 30 days|
|Inappropriate speed for conditions||$45 to $150||Not more than 15 days|
You may have to pay higher fines if you are caught speeding more than once in 18 months. The DMV may even revoke your license if you’re convicted thrice in 18 months.
The amount may also double if you’re in a school area or a work zone.
New York Car Crash Law
In New York, you cannot leave a crash scene, regardless of how minimal the damage may be.
You must file an accident report with the DMV if the accident resulted in property damage worth more than $1,000.
If there are injuries or fatalities, you must contact law enforcement immediately. Don’t forget to call for help and ensure rescue personnel or an ambulance is on its way.
A hit-and-run may result in the following consequences:
- Fines of up to $250 if a property is damaged. If there are injuries, the amount may reach $5,000.
- A mandatory surcharge between $88 and $93
- 3 points on your driving record if there are no injuries or if it’s just minor.
- Possible 1-year license revocation
- Jail time of up to 15 days if there were no injuries.
- Jail time of up to 1 year if you leave an accident resulting in injuries before police arrive.
- Jail time of up to 3 months if you withhold insurance information after an accident resulting in injuries.
New York Car Seat Law
New York’s car seat law states that you must use a child restraint system for all passengers under 9 years old.
These can be as follows:
- Children under 4 years old must be in a car seat, whether rear- or front-facing. Typically, you start with the former and transition to the latter.
NOTE: Remember, each car seat has weight and height limits. You can use these to determine when to move your child from one kind to another.
- Children between 4 to 8 years old must use a booster seat. However, if your child weighs over 100 pounds or stands 4 feet and 9 inches, they can use a seatbelt even if they haven’t turned 9 yet.
If your child is unrestrained, you will face penalty fines ranging from $50 to $100.
New York Seat Belt Law
All passengers under 16 years old (but over 9 years old) must wear a seatbelt, regardless of where they sit. The driver will have to pay a fine between $25 to $100 if any minor in the car violates this rule. The driver also gets 3 points on their license.
If you’re 16 or older, you must wear a seatbelt when driving or sitting in the front passenger seat. Otherwise, there’s a fine of up to $50.
If your license or permit is a class DJ, all your passengers must buckle up, regardless of age and where they’re sitting.
Remember, New York has primary enforcement for its seatbelt law. This means a law enforcement officer can pull you over for the sole fact that you (or your passenger) are not wearing a seatbelt.
The Wrap Up
And there you have it – a quick guide to the New York rules of the road.
Yes, it’s a lot to keep in mind. But remember, these rules are there to keep you and the roadways safe.
So always make sure to obey them.