New York State is is pretty strict when it comes to laws regarding distracted driving. Did you know that only about half of the states in The United States have hands-free driving laws. Driving a vehicle while using a cell phone can be extremely dangerous. Texting and dialing a phone while operating a vehicle in New York State is prohibited.

What about driving with headphones in? We often see drivers do this? Is that distracting and is it illegal the State of New York?

Is it illegal to wear headphones while driving in New York State?

We asked local attorney, Alex Mainetti from Mainetti & Mainetti and here was detailed his response:

So, according to Vehicle & Traffic Law 375(24)-a;


“It shall be unlawful to operate upon any public highway in this state a motor vehicle, limited use automobile, limited use motorcycle or bicycle while the operator is wearing more than one earphone attached to a radio, tape player or other audio device.”


Therefore, it is legal to wear one headphone but not two.  However, I can see quite a couple ways around this law if you got pulled over for wearing 2 headphones.


  1. The prosecutor at trial would have to prove that both earphones were attached to a radio, tape player or other audio device.  That’s the prosecutor/state’s burden to prove, which is very difficult, because you could simply argue you’re wearing noise cancelling headphones not attached to anything and/or could argue the headphones were actually not linked to any device.  If prosecutor can’t prove which device the headphones were attached to or if it the headphones were attached to any device at all then you win.

  2. Also you could argue statutory interpretation of the word “attached” does attached mean attached by “hard wire or cord” or does it mean Bluetooth or both? If not clear or ambiguous then you win.

  3. Lastly, on cross examination of the officer I’d imagine it would be very difficult for the officer to testify convincingly that he/she was able to confirm you were wearing 2 tiny earphones while driving in your car at speed as you passed by.  Unless of course you still had them both in when he came up to your window during the stop.

Is it illegal to wear headphones while driving a car in New York? It looks like you could legally have one in but it may be wise to avoid any issue and just listen to the radio or use Bluetooth.

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