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Texting While Driving Is Illegal in New York State

- Don't text and drive in Nassau, Suffolk or other areas of New York State

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It's illegal to text and drive in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, as well as in all other areas of New York State. It's not only against the law, but it's also a dangerous practice because distracted driving can lead to serious or fatal auto accidents. Take the case of five teenage girls who were driving in Upstate New York in 2007. The five teens died when their SUV veered into oncoming traffic and hit a rig. Authorities later discovered that the driver's cell phone had been used just before the fatal crash to make a call and also to send and receive text messages. This tragic accident occurred just days after the five girls graduated from high school.

In 2011, New York State got tougher on those who engage in the dangerous practice of texting while driving. In September of that year, authorities reported that as a result of the strict new enforcement against drivers who use hand-held electronic devices, law enforcement officials issued over twice as many tickets for texting while driving (TWD) offenses in New York State during August 2011 as compared to August 2010.

NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo introduced legislation to strengthen enforcement of texting while driving violations in June 2011, and he also signed new penalties into law in July 2011. In August, the first full month after the new law went into effect, 1,082 drivers were ticketed for texting while driving.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo commented, "We were serious when this law passed: texting while driving is illegal and the law is being enforced, so don't do it. I thank local and state law enforcement officers for their diligence in keeping our roadways safe and protecting New Yorkers. Today's message to drivers is to keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel."

The current law makes using a hand-held electronic device for activities including texting while a vehicle is in motion a primary traffic offense. This gives state law enforcement the authority to stop drivers who they see engaged in these activities.

In addition, the current law has increased the penalty for using a cell phone without a hands free device or a hand-held device. It has now gone up from two to three points.

Nassau and Suffolk counties have had their own local laws for a few years. Nassau County began enforcing its Anti-Text Messaging While Driving Law, which went into effect on December 28, 2008. And Suffolk County's ban on texting while driving took effect in September of 2008.

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