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New York City police ramp up enforcement of texting ban

The New York City Police Department (NYPD) has increased the number of texting-while-driving tickets it has been issuing recently. Within the first eight months of this year, NYPD has already issued 1,857 tickets, up from the 1,631 tickets it gave out in all of 2010. This 14 percent increase is partially due to a change in the texting-while-driving ban.

On July 12, Governor Andrew Cuomo approved a law that made texting a primary traffic violation. Previously, police could only pull you over and ticket you for texting if they had a separate reason to initiate the traffic stop. Now, police do not need a pretense to stop you and can ticket you solely for texting while driving.

Now that New York has had one full month of the new legislation, the effects of the law are clear. August saw a record-setting 1,082 texting tickets issued throughout the state, nearly400 tickets higher than the second highest month.

A ticket for texting while driving is not cheap, either. A driver can pay up to $150 in a fine and get 3 points on his or her license. Additionally, the ticketed driver must take a distracted-driver course if he or she does not yet have a license.

The best thing a New York City motorist can do is be extremely careful while driving. Many law enforcement personnel across the state are using distracted driving sting operations to catch drivers. Several of these programs include using officers in unmarked cars. As police go ticket-happy, New York residents will have to be cautious they avoid an expensive and meddlesome ticket.

Source: WGRZ TV 2, "Texting While Driving Tickets Soar in New York," Joseph Spector and Matt Pitts, Sept. 21, 2011


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