A state bill that would suspend the licenses of teens and other new drivers caught texting behind the wheel has gained a groundswell of support, most recently passing the state senate in its likely bid to become law.
Having already gained approval from the assembly, the measure now goes to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Our Long Island car accident lawyers know of no other state in the country where such a measure has been implemented. S5656-2013 targets teens who commit distracted driving offenses. Mainly, of course, we’re talking about texting while driving. However, the law covers all uses of mobile phones and engagement in any use of portable electronic devices while driving. This would include checking one’s e-mail, updating a social media profile or even checking a voicemail.
You may recall that New York already holds the title for the nation’s toughest ban on handheld cell phones for all motorists in the state. Violators of that law face a $400 fine (recently increased from $100) and a 5-point penalty on their license (upped recently from 3 points by the governor), which can significantly up car insurance rates – ultimately resulting with an 18-month suspended license if they rack up 11 or more points.
In the case of the newest distracted driving measure, teens in their first six months of obtaining a junior driving license who are caught driving distracted will have their license suspended for two full months for a first-time offense. If a teen or new driver racks up another distracted driving offense within six months of having his or her license restored, it will result in a six-month license suspension. Fines and other penalties – including points on one’s license – will be upped with each subsequent offense.
Sponsors of the bill note that nearly 45 percent of teens admit to texting while driving and that between 2005 and 2011 in New York, there has been a nearly 145 percent increase in cell phone-related crashes. State traffic authorities report that in 2011, there were more than 25,000 fatal and personal injury crashes involving distracted drivers, versus about 4,630 caused by drivers who were drunk.
Drivers who are distracted are nearly 25 times more likely to be involved in a crash than someone who is paying sharp attention.
Since the state’s ban on handheld devices passed in 2011, the number of tickets issued has increased nearly 235 percent, according to state officials. A texting while driving ban was passed in the state back in 2009.
Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) was quoted recently as saying it’s never safe for anyone to text and drive, but that that this measure was a priority because young and inexperienced drivers pose a special safety risk not only to themselves but others when they become distracted behind the wheel.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
SENATE APPROVES BILL TO STRENGTHEN DISTRACTED DRIVING PENALTIES FOR NEW DRIVERS, June 5, 2013, Posted by Sen. Carl L. Marcellino (R-5th Senate District)
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