New proposed state law would get even tougher on those who text while driving.
Starting Saturday, Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered the DMV to increase the number of points against your driver's license from three to five if you're caught. The change will go into effect starting Saturday and the penalty applies to any kind of cellphone activity while driving.
The governor is also calling for increased police patrols to catch those breaking the law.
"As the father of three teenagers, I know firsthand the importance of instilling safe practices in our young drivers who are developing lifelong habits as they learn to navigate the road," Governor Cuomo said. "Inattention and inexperience is a deadly combination - one this legislation seeks to deter. We are urging young and inexperienced drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, while putting stronger penalties in place for drivers of all ages who violate the law and put others in danger. No parent should have to experience losing a child at the hands of a text message."
In 2011, Governor Cuomo signed a new law to strengthen enforcement of texting-while-driving violations which made using a handheld electronic device for texting while driving a primary traffic offense, giving police the ability to stop drivers solely for this purpose. The penalty for using a handheld device while driving was increased from two to three points.
The Governor is also proposing legislation that would establish tough new penalties for young and new drivers convicted of texting-while-driving.
Under current law, probationary and junior licenses are suspended for 60 days for violations such as speeding, reckless driving, or following too closely behind another vehicle. Such licenses are revoked for 6 months (for probationary licenses) or 60 days (for junior licenses) if there is another violation within 6 months of the license being restored.
The Governor's proposed legislation will impose the same penalties on drivers with probationary and junior licenses for texting-while-driving that they now receive for speeding and reckless driving: 60-day suspensions for first convictions and revocations of 60 days (for junior licenses) or 6 months (for probationary licenses) for subsequent convictions within 6 months of the time a license is restored after suspension.
(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)