If police suspect that you’re texting and driving you could be fined and hit with three points on your driver’s license, as the result of a bill signed Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“This bill will save lives. Period,” Cuomo said, adding that using electronic devices while behind the wheel “is not just a mistake. It’s not just bad judgment. It’s not just foolishness. You’re breaking the law.”
The law, which immediately took effect, makes using a handheld electronic device while behind the wheel a primary traffic offense. It beefs up a 2009 distracted driving law and increases the penalty from two points to three points on a driver’s license.
Previously, motorists could be ticketed for texting only if they were first stopped for another offense. The fine remains up to $150.
One in five drivers admit to texting or reading emails while at the wheel, Cuomo said, citing AAA statistics and noting that those numbers are likely to increase as a new generation of drivers who are part of the “technological revolution,” hit the road.
New York is the 31st state to make it a primary offense to use handheld electronic devices for the purposes of texting, emailing, taking photos, playing games and more while behind the wheel. Using GPS systems is exempted as is using a cell phone to communicate with first responders during an emergency.
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) has introduced a bill that would set a national standard to prohibit using hand-held mobile devices while driving.
“Driving while making a phone call, texting or using apps can be as dangerous as driving drunk, and much more common,” she said.