Tougher Texting Penalties Becomes Law - Daily Hudson Valley News

Tougher Texting Penalties Becomes Law

Jul 4th, 2013 | By | Category: Featured Articles

Governor Cuomo has signed legislation she supported into law that aims to improve highway safety by imposing tougher penalties on young and new drivers who text while driving. The measure brings penalties for texting while driving in line with penalties for convictions related to speeding, reckless driving or following a vehicle to closely (Chap. 91 of 2013).

Assemblymember Didi Barrett said, “This new law sends a message to our younger and inexperienced drivers that distracted driving is a serious offense that will not be tolerated. When you take your eyes off the road to use your cell phone you aren’t only putting your own life in danger – you are putting other people’s lives in danger,” adding, “We have seen too many tragic accidents to not do something to prevent this.”

Specifically, the legislation would increase penalties for texting or using a cell phone while driving on two types of permits and licenses, including:

Junior permits or licenses:

·         first offense is a 60-day license suspension; and
·         second offense, if within six months of getting the permit or license back, is a 60-day permit or license revocation.

Probationary licenses:

·         first offense is a 60-day license suspension; and
·         second offense, if within six months of getting the license back, is a six-month license revocation.

This legislation follows Governor Cuomo’s directive in May to the NYS Department of Motor vehicles to increase the amount of points on a license for using a cell phone while driving violations to five points – up from the previous three for a first offense.

Assemblyman James Skoufis applauded Governor Cuomo for signing the law to strengthen current penalties saying “Texting while driving endangers the lives of everyone on the road and has become a serious problem for our youngest drivers,” Assemblyman Skoufis said. “This new law makes it clear to young drivers that their focus should be on the road and not on their cell phones – simply put, the text can wait.” Skoufis added, “A driver’s license often gives young drivers a sense of freedom and independence but that feeling bares responsibility as well,” said Assemblyman Skoufis. “It is important for our drivers to learn good driving habits at a young age so that we can hopefully avoid tragedies and ensure the safety of those on the road.”

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2011, 11% of all drivers 15-19 years old involved in a fatal crash were reported “distracted” at the time of the crash – Of which, 21% were distracted by the use of cell phones. Additionally, 26% of teens read or sent a text message at least once every time they drive.

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