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Stronger New York Texting Ban Yields Four Times the Tickets

Drivers who ignore New York’s ban on texting while driving are more likely to be caught now that legislators have strengthened the state law on distracted driving.

The new law, which took effect in July 2011, made texting while driving a primary offense. As a result, New York law enforcement officers are able to stop drivers solely because they are texting behind the wheel. Motorists received 20,958 tickets for texting while driving (and similar violations) in the 12 months since the law was enacted.

In the year before the new law took effect, New York law enforcement officers issued 4,569 tickets for texting while driving. During that time, texting while driving was a secondary offense. Drivers could be ticketed only if police pulled them over for another offense and found that they had been using a handheld electronic device behind the wheel.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says the increase in tickets shows that the new provisions help law enforcement authorities crack down on distracted driving. He says the tickets should remind drivers to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.

Tickets Result in Fines, Points on Driver’s License

New York law prohibits drivers from using a handheld phone, including e-mailing, using an Internet browser, taking cell phone pictures, reading on handheld devices and playing games while driving. A ticket can set a driver back $150 and result in points accumulating under the New York driver’s license point system. The new law increased the driving violation points from two points to three points.

These points can quickly add up to unpleasant consequences. You may be subject to fees and penalties if you accumulate six or more points within 18 months. If you accrue 11 or more points on your driving record in 18 months, your license will be suspended.

Many States Adopting Texting Bans As Safety Concerns Grow

As awareness of the dangers of distracted driving grows, many states have enacted or strengthened bans on texting and other activities. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 39 states now ban texting while driving for all drivers. And all but four of these states make texting while driving a primary offense.

There were more than 3,000 deaths due to distracted driving last year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and those are only the fatalities that can be tracked. Texting while driving is considered particularly dangerous because it requires the driver to give visual, manual and cognitive attention.

If you have been cited for using a handheld electronic device or texting while driving, contact a New York traffic ticket defense lawyer for advice on your case. An experienced attorney can help you prevent points from accumulating on your driving record.

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