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New drivers: Increased penalty for texting and driving

Albany, N.Y. -- Lawmakers in New York state are increasing penalties for texting behind the wheel for new drivers beginning Nov. 1.

"These new reforms continue the work we started to crack down on texting while driving and, by ensuring that our newest and least-experienced drivers do not pick up this dangerous habit, we can make New York's roads safer, avoiding needless tragedy," stated Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The penalties apply to drivers who are 16 or 17 years of age, and drivers who have had their license for six months or less.

The first offense will mean a provoked license for 120 days and cost $50-200.

The second offense will mean a provoked license for a year and cost $50-200, if it's within 18 months of the first offense.

"We can't be tough enough in my view because statistically it just shows how dangerous a habit it is and we had to make sure new and young drivers don't get in the habit of trying to text," said Sen. Ted O'Brien.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, young drivers have the highest level of accidents on the road because of phone use.

13WHAM spoke with college students in Brockport who agree with the increased penalties.

"I think it's a serious issue going on right now," said Stephanie Davis, 21. "I think it's more important to crack down on it and make sure people don't get hurt."

"I try not to text and drive," said Konrad Morawski, 19. "I have a lot of friends that had trouble in accidents that way. It reminds me of that."

Alyssa Rychcik, 21, said she supports the law change, but thinks it's a dangerous habit for all age groups.

"People underestimate the consequences of what can happen when you do it regardless of whether you're 18 or 45," said Rychcik.

A spokesperson for the governor's office said no extra funding was needed to make the changes. The state will actually gain money, and that money will go to local towns and villages.

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Washington Times