The much anticipated Apple Watch is a few weeks from making its debut in the United States.  With the new device, people will be able to do a host of new things, including pay for a meal with a wave of the wrist, unlocking car doors without a key, tracking workouts and heartrate.  Probably the best feature of the new watch is that someone can do all of this without ever taking a phone out of their pocket. Perfect for driving, right?  Do not be fooled, you can probably still get a ticket if you are caught using the Apple Watch while driving.

Under New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1225-d, the Apple Watch will undoubtedly fall within at least 4 definitions of the term “portable electronic device.”

After all, the Apple Watch is all of the following:

  • “broadband personal communication device”
  • “two-way messaging device”
  • “portable computing device”
  • “or any other electronic device when used to input, write, send, receive, or read text for present or future communication”

See N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 1225-d (2)(a) (McKinney)

With that said, if you are caught using the watch, you are subject to the same five point traffic ticket as someone talking on their cell phone, or texting while driving.

“Using,” however, may be a little unclear.  According to the Vehicle and Traffic Law, a person is said to be “using” a portable electronic device if they are holding the device.  See N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 1225-d (2)(b) (McKinney).  People typically wear watches on their wrists, they do not hold them.  However it is likely that courts will find that accessing information on a wristwatch still qualifies as violating this section
of the vehicle and traffic law.

While it remains to be seen how law enforcement and the courts will interpret the use of the Apple Watch if it rests on someone’s wrist, it is probably best to play it safe; wait until you get where you are going before checking your Apple Watch.

At LaMarche Safranko Law, we continue to stay updated on the most recent developments in technology and the law in order to better serve our clients.