Behind the Wheel? Donít text and drive

CHENANGO COUNTY Ė Texting-while-driving has been a growing epidemic in recent years, one which experts often hold in the same light as drunk driving. In response to the apparent increase, which has often been attributed to the popularity of smart phones, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Friday a new initiative to curb texting-while-driving through more severe penalties, some of which went into effect this past weekend.

The recently enacted initiative increases the points received on a license for distracted driving from three to five. Under current regulations, if an individual receives 11 points within the time frame of 18 months, their license will be suspended.

Further legislation has also been proposed as a facet of the 2013-2014 state budget which will increase the cost of fines for texting-while-driving, as well as inflict harsher penalties specifically designed to target youthful motorists. For probationary and junior license holders, first time offenses will result in a 60-day suspension, while a second offense within six months of the licenseís return will result in six month revocation for probationary license holders and a 60-day revocation for a junior license holder. The proposed maximum fines will also increase to $150 for a first offense, $200 for the second offense within 18 months, and $400 for third offenses, also within 18 months of the first offense.

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