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  • Writer's pictureAlex Maltese

Is It Illegal to Drive with Headphones in New York?

It is common to see teenagers moving to music with earbuds or headphones in their ears. Adults wear them at the gym when they go for a walk and occasionally even when they ride a bike or drive. However, are they safe to wear when riding a bike or driving a vehicle? More so, is it legal to drive with headphones in New York?

This article will discuss the key points related to driving with headphones in New York.

What Are the Common Laws and Fines for Driving with Earphones in New York?

What Are the Common Laws and Fines for Driving with Earphones in New York?

In some states, including Massachusetts and California, it is illegal for drivers to use headphones while they are on the road. Some jurisdictions, including Colorado and New York, mandate that drivers leave one earbud out while they are on the road.

Given that most headphones now come with microphones, New Jersey is one of the jurisdictions that does not outright forbid using headphones while driving and even classifies them as hands-free gadgets. Even if it is permitted, using headphones while driving may not be the safest choice.

Driving a car, motorbike, or bicycle while wearing more than one earbud connected to a radio, tape player, or other audio equipment is prohibited by the state law's Vehicle and Traffic Law.

Riding while wearing headphones faces a maximum fine of $150 and a potential sentence of up to 30 days in jail. However, it will not result in license points. In New York, all traffic offenses are regarded as "primary offenses," allowing a police officer to pull people over for that reason.

Why Is It Illegal to Drive with Headphones in New York?

The turning point occurred in 1982 when headphones were linked to the fatalities of individuals hit by trains in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Connecticut, according to a report by Keith Williams in The New York Times. Headphones are prohibited for all road users, including pedestrians, to avoid similar tragedies in Woodbridge, New Jersey.

Overall, the New York City Council took up the issue, but according to Mr. Williams, it lacked the authority to ban headphones. Its opponents said that the government shouldn't interfere with people's personal decisions.

Even if it is legal to wear one earbud while driving, it is better to be cautious. Instead, use the car stereo to listen to music and save the headphones for the gym or when working around the house. Wearing headphones while cycling or driving is simply unsafe since people risk overlooking important safety rules and suffering injuries as a result.

Studies have revealed that drivers who use both earphones to listen to music are more distracted than those who only use one to listen to music over the car stereo. In fact, according to experts, using headphones to listen to music while driving is just as distracting as texting and driving.

Drivers cannot hear emergency vehicles or other vehicles' warnings when they have headphones plugged in. Therefore, it is against the law to use two earbuds while driving.

Dangers of Using Headphones While Driving

It's not necessarily safe to wear headphones while driving, even if it's legal. Using earbuds while driving can potentially put other drivers and passengers at risk.

Moreover, it is possible to be charged with irresponsible or distracted driving in states that restrict or outright forbid using headphones while driving. This should serve as a reminder of how risky using headphones is while driving.

Most importantly, inattentive, and risky driving of any kind can result in deadly car crashes. According to various studies, distracted driving results in 15% of all traffic accidents. Additionally, 5.9% of the drivers in catastrophic accidents were texting while driving.


Considering everyone’s safety, it’s best not to use headphones while driving in New York. There are those that specialize as a Long Island auto accident attorney that can assist people who have been injured or want compensation due to irresponsible driving. They are experts in all aspects of driving laws, including the matters of driving shirtless in New York and driving without a hood in New York.

The Law Office of Carl Maltese is a specialist in handling personal injury and negligence cases. It works toward getting fair compensation for people who are injured in road accidents because of irresponsible driving. As a premier boutique personal injury law firm, this company has worked with hundreds of clients to get fair compensation for full and fair compensation.


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