Stricter Texting-While-Driving Penalties Go Into Effect

Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

New and young drivers will lose their driving privileges for at least four months under a stricter texting-while-driving law that went into effect Saturday.

Under the new law, drivers with a junior’s license will have their license suspended for 120 days on the first texting-while-driving violation, and revoked for a year if convicted of a second or subsequent offense within six months of having their license reinstated.

The increased penalties are part of a wider effort by state officials to combat distracted driving—which kills more than nine people each day in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Officials hope addressing the issue early on should prevent young and new drivers from falling into bad habits.

“There have been far too many avoidable tragedies due to texting while driving and with these new penalties, we are seeking to change the behavior of young drivers now, and make New York’s roadways safer for all,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

The new measures going into effect Saturday also include increased fines for cell phone use or a texting violation. The maximum fine for a first time offense is now $200, up from $150, and second and third offenses within 18 months jumped to $250 and $450 respectively.

The state has previously passed a law that increases texting-while-driving penalties from three to five points, and established “Texting Zones” along the New York State Thruway and other state highways, including the Long Island Expressway.