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Cops: Checking email at red light is OK

Both Nassau and Suffolk police departments told us

Both Nassau and Suffolk police departments told us the state law allows a driver to use an electronic device as long as the car is not moving. (Aug. 22, 2013) Photo Credit: iStock

So texting while driving is against the law. But what about simply scrolling through email while sitting at a red light?

We were surprised to learn that it's permitted.

Both Nassau and Suffolk police departments told us the state law allows a driver to use an electronic device as long as the car is not moving. According to the law: "No person shall operate a motor vehicle while using any portable electronic device while such vehicle is in motion." The policy is different for commercial vehicles; those drivers can use such devices "only when the vehicle is stopped at the side of, or off, a public highway," according to the law.

Still, laws are open to a judge's interpretation. One lawyer who handles traffic cases said that, in one upstate case, a judge ruled that a driver at a red light was still "in motion."

No one is encouraging drivers at red lights to engage in email which, it goes without saying, diverts attention from what's happening on the roadway. As for those who can't resist, we'd like to make a plea: Drivers behind you are waiting, too, so be ready for the light to turn green.

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