City of Rensselaer, NY
Rensselaer County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of Rensselaer 7-15-2009 by L.L. No. 2-2009. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Taxicabs — See Ch. 159.
Towers and towing — See Ch. 161.
Vehicles and traffic — See Ch. 169.

§ 160-1 Findings and intent.

A. 
This Common Council finds that distracted drivers are the cause of a significant percentage of motor vehicle accidents.
B. 
This Common Council finds that a motor vehicle driver who composes, sends, or reads text messages while driving is adversely affecting his or her driver reaction time and attention, which inevitably decreases public safety.
C. 
This Common Council finds that there are an increased number of distracted drivers who are composing, sending or reading text messages while driving, and that these actions currently are not prohibited by any federal, state or local law.
D. 
This Common Council finds that it is in the best interest and safety of the driving public to prohibit drivers from composing, reading or sending text messages while driving.

§ 160-2 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
HANDS-FREE
The manner in which a wireless handset is operated for the purpose of composing, reading or sending text messages, by using an internal feature or function, or through an attachment or addition, including but not limited to an earpiece, headset, remote microphone or short-range wireless connection, thereby allowing the user to operate said device without the use of hands.
INOPERABILITY
A motor vehicle that is incapable of being operated or being operated in a safe and prudent manner due to mechanical failure, including but not limited to engine overheating or tire failure.
MOTOR VEHICLE
Any vehicle that is self-propelled by a motor, including but not limited to automobiles, trucks, vans, construction vehicles, etc.
PERSON
Any natural person, corporation, unincorporated association, firm, partnership, joint venture, joint-stock association, or other entity or business organization of any kind.
TEXT MESSAGE or SHORT MESSAGING SERVICE (SMS)
The process by which users send, read or receive messages on a wireless handset, including, but not limited to, text messages, instant messages, electronic messages or e-mails, in order to communicate with any person or device.
USE
To hold a wireless handset in one's hand, or to activate, deactivate or initiate functions or keys on a wireless handset.
WIRELESS HANDSET
A portable electronic or computing device, including cellular telephones and personal digital assistants (PDAs), capable of transmitting data in the form of a text message.

§ 160-3 Prohibitions; exceptions.

A. 
No person shall use a wireless handset to compose, read or send text messages while operating a motor vehicle on any public highway within the City of Rensselaer.
B. 
Subsection A of this section shall not be construed to prohibit the use of any wireless handset by:
(1) 
Any law enforcement, public safety or police officers, emergency services officials, and fire safety officials in the performance of duties arising out of and in the course of their employment.
(2) 
A person using a wireless handset to contact any law enforcement, public safety, fire safety, or emergency services officials.
(3) 
A person using a wireless handset while the motor vehicle is parked, standing or stopped, or while such motor vehicle is stopped due to the inoperability of the motor vehicle.
C. 
Subsection A of this section shall not be construed to prohibit a person from operating a motor vehicle while using a hands-free wireless handset.

§ 160-4 Penalties for offenses; enforcement.

A. 
A violation of this chapter shall constitute an offense, and shall be punishable by a fine not exceeding $150 for each violation. Each such violation shall constitute a separate and distinct offense.
B. 
This chapter shall be enforced by any law enforcement agency having jurisdiction.

§ 160-5 Reverse preemption. [1]

This chapter shall be null and void on the day that statewide legislation goes into effect, incorporating either the same or substantially similar provisions as are contained in this chapter, or in the event that a pertinent state or federal administrative agency issues and promulgates regulations preempting such action by the City of Rensselaer. The Common Council may determine by resolution whether or not identical or substantially similar statewide legislation or pertinent preempting state or federal regulations have been enacted for the purposes of triggering the provisions of this section.
[1]
Editor's Note: For current state law provisions, see Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1225-d.

§ 160-6 Effective date.

This chapter shall take effect on August 1, 2009.