Not only is it unsafe to text and drive, it will soon cost you more if you get caught.
The legislation also increases the fine for talking on a cell phone without a hands-free device from $100 to $150 for a first offense, making it consistent with the first-time fine for texting while driving.
“Distracted drivers jeopardize the safety of everyone on the road; they are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than a regular driver,” said Senate Transportation Committee chairman Charles Fuschillo, R-Nassau County, in a statement.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo sought to include in the budget an $80 surcharge when a speeding ticket is pleaded down to a parking violation. The proposal in the budget was limited to a $25 state surcharge, and there’s an $8 state surcharge added to other moving violations.
Cuomo signed the bill to ban texting-while-driving in 2011 after a number of fatal accidents involving teenagers who were texting behind the wheel. An original law in 2009 made texting while driving a secondary infraction and didn’t allow police to pull someone over specifically for it. But the 2011 law made it a primary offense, and texting-while-driving tickets have soared since.
The 2011 law also increased the penalty for using a handheld device while driving from two to three points on a license.
From January 2012 through November 2012, police issued nearly 26,000 texting-while-driving violations – compared to about 9,000 in all of 2011.
The budget change would increase the fines for distracted driving to up to a $200 fine for two infractions withing 18 months and up to $400 for three or more offenses in 18 months.
The budget also bolsters regulations that prohibit commercial drivers from using electronic devices and talking on a cell phone while stopped in traffic.