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New statistics show dramatic spike in texting, cell phone citations

It appears that law enforcement officials throughout the state of New York have been going to great lengths to enforce one of the state's newer -- and decidedly more stringent -- vehicle traffic laws over the past six months.

Specifically, law enforcement officials have been on the lookout for drivers using cell phones or other handheld devices while behind the wheel.

Here in New York, texting while driving and the general use of a cell phone/handheld device are considered primary offenses. This means that any law enforcement official in the state can stop and ticket you solely for these acts. Prior to July, however, texting while driving was only considered 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 texting while driving or using a cell phone/handheld device can be severe, including a $150 fine and three points against a driver's license.

On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo's office released figures on the number of tickets issued before and after the ban on texting was enacted, and they reveal that law enforcement officials are not taking cell phone use lightly.

  • From January 1, 2011 to July 11, 2011, approximately 2,691 citations for texting while driving were issued; Since July 12, 2011 -- the day the new law went into effect -- 7,495 citations for texting while driving have been issued
  • Since July 12, 2011, 111,262 citations for using a cell phone/handheld device while driving have been issued

"Texting while driving is illegal and endangers the lives of New Yorkers across the state," said Governor Cuomo in a released statement. "These tickets should send a resounding message to all drivers: keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. I thank the State Police and local law enforcement for their dedication to ensuring the safety of the people of the state of New York."

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 Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo, "Governor Cuomo announces texting-while-driving law leads to major crackdown on distracted driving" Feb. 13, 2012

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