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Texting and driving fines going up in NY?

Posted at: 03/27/2013 6:14 PM
By: Ray Levato

It looks like the fines are going up in New York for texting and driving. But will that be enough to get drivers to stop?

Governor Cuomo's new budget would dramatically "up" the fines for texting while behind the wheel. Some repeat offenders may have to pay as much as $400 dollars. Do fellow drivers and police believe this latest move will force people to think twice before picking up the phone?

Twenty-six thousand tickets were written in New York last year for texting and driving, nearly a thousand of those in Monroe County alone.

Governor Cuomo's new budget would increase the fines for texting and driving to $150 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense within 18 months and $400 for a third offense in 18 months.

News10NBC asked drivers do they think upping the fines will get people to stop?

Bob Stark said, “Sure, why not. You shouldn't be texting and driving, and doing it three times, yeah, absolutely.”

But why wait for three times in 18 months before leveling a major fine when texting even once could cause a bad accident?

Karsten Solberg said, “I would increase the fine the first time around, first time offender because they're not going to catch you three times.”

Michelle Rawlins said, “I absolutely agree with that. Myself, I’ve texted while driving before and found myself swerving off the road, not quite off the road but and swerving and since then I’ve never done it. It's very dangerous.”

Mark O’Donnell speaks for Troop E of the state police.

Mark O'Donnell, Troop E, New York State Police, said, “It's imperative we get the message out that you can't take your eyes off the road when you're driving a motor vehicle.”
Reached by phone in Albany, New York State Senate Joe Robach says he favors this change.

Senator Joseph Robach, 56th New York Senate District, said, “We should be doing whatever we can to deter people from texting and driving. And I think for most people, maybe not $50, but certainly $200 is going to send a message.”

News10NBC's Ray Levato said, “ Is it possible to say whether something like this, increasing the fine, would be a deterrent?”

O'Donnell said, “It's hard to speculate on that. For some people it may, but for others, I’m not so sure it would be the end all for them texting and driving.”
                    
State troopers say put your phone in your glove box, put it on silent and check it when you get to where you're going.

The new texting fine is part of the state budget. The Senate approved the budget early Wednesday morning. The Assembly plans to vote Thursday. The budget deadline is April 1.