Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, law enforcement officials throughout the state of New York took part in an extensive campaign designed to enforce some of the more stringent vehicle traffic laws.
Specifically, law enforcement officials stepped up the number of patrols on the lookout for distracted drivers as part of Operation Hang-up, meaning drivers using cell phones or other handheld devices while driving.
The results from this Thanksgiving crackdown -- made possible by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) -- were recently released by Governor Andrew Cuomo's office, and they reveal that law enforcement officials were not taking Operation Hang-Up lightly.
- From November 23 to November 27, the New York State Police issued approximately 816 citations for texting while driving, 330 of which were issued as part of Operation Hang-Up
- If all of the citations issued were for the maximum amount ($150), this constitutes $122,400 in revenue for the state
"The more than 800 tickets issued in just five days further demonstrates the need for these stricter laws, which focus on drivers who put others at risk by illegally using a hand-held device," said Governor Cuomo in a released statement. "I thank the State Police and local law enforcement agencies for cracking down on distracted driving during the holiday weekend to help protect New Yorkers and keep our highways safe."
Here in New York, texting while driving is a primary offense. This means that any law enforcement official in the state can stop and ticket you solely for this act. Prior to July, however, texting while driving was only a secondary offense, such that a law enforcement official could not issue a citation for it unless they first witnessed a primary offense - such as speeding - and pulled the driver over.
The penalties for a texting while driving citation can be severe, including a $150 fine and three points against a driver's license.
In fact, it is worth noting that since the new texting while driving ban became law, the number of traffic citations issued has increased dramatically. To illustrate, from July through mid-September of 2011, the number of citations issued throughout the state was 43 percent higher than all of 2010.
For now, state officials have pledged to continue their efforts to combat texting while driving.
"Using a hand-held device while operating a motor vehicle is illegal, and through future enforcement campaigns we will continue to make sure our roadways are safe for all New Yorkers," said Barbara J. Fiala, Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles.
If you have been issued a traffic citation, fight to keep your driving privileges and your insurance premiums as low as possible. Consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.
This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.
Stay tuned for further developments from our New York vehicle traffic law blog ...
The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, "State Police nab 816 over texting while driving" Dec. 2, 2011