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Cuomo targets distracted driving violators

Fines increase for driving while texting, talking on cell phones

An Essex County bus moves along Saranac Avenue in Lake Placid among local and tourist traffic.

An Essex County bus moves along Saranac Avenue in Lake Placid among local and tourist traffic. Photo by Andy Flynn.

— Governor Andrew M. Cuomo Friday, July 26 announced that new and increased fines for distracted driving violations, which includes texting-while-driving or using an electronic handheld device while driving, are effective immediately. These new fines were passed as part of the 2013-14 State Budget. They are part of the Governor’s continuing efforts to prevent distracted driving and make the state’s roads and highways safer for New Yorkers.

“Distracted driving has become a frightening epidemic on our roadways, and fines are an important tool to punish and prevent this reckless behavior,” Governor Cuomo said. “Combined with stronger penalties on your license and increased enforcement, these increased fines will send a tough message to all drivers that distracted driving is a serious problem with serious consequences. Using a multi-pronged approach to combat this dangerous habit will make drivers think twice before using their cellphones behind the wheel. As New York’s law enforcement patrols our highways and roads this summer, we are warning drivers: don’t text-and-drive or you will pay for it.”

As of today, for distracted driving violations that occur on or after July 26, 2013, there are new minimum fines and higher maximum fines:

· For a first offense, the minimum fine is $50 and maximum fine increases to $150.

· For a second offense committed within 18 months, the minimum fine is $50 and the maximum fine increases to $200.

· For a third or subsequent offense committed within 18 months, the minimum fine is $50 and the maximum fine increases to $400.

These fines are a part of the Governor’s ongoing efforts to fight distracted driving - an issue that affects public safety statewide and across the nation. Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo directed the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to implement tougher penalties for distracted driving for all drivers. On June 1, 2013, DMV increased the number of points earned against an individual’s driving record upon conviction for texting-while-driving and cell-phone related infractions from three points to five points.

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