June 14, 2011

Assembly Legislation Enhances Safer Roadways, Creates Primary Offense Of Texting While Driving

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Transportation Committee Chair David Gantt and Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg announced today the passage of legislation that would enhance highway and traffic safety by making the use of portable electronic devices while driving a primary offense.

The measure (A.8106/Weisenberg) changes current law that requires drivers to commit another violation before being stopped for using electronic devices.

"Two years after a statewide ban on the use of portable electronic devices while driving, distracted driving continues to be a major problem on our roadways," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "By making texting while driving a primary offense, this legislation will deter motorists from engaging in this dangerous activity, and make our streets and highways safer."

"Text messaging while driving is unsafe and illegal," said Gantt (D-Rochester). "This legislation builds on our commitment to increase safety on our roads by allowing law enforcement officers to enforce the ban."

"As a former police officer, I've seen the devastation caused by distracted drivers," said Weisenberg (D-Long Beach). "Changing the law from a secondary offense to a primary offense gives law enforcement the tools they need to keep our roads safe. This law will save lives."

New York State Law prohibits a motorist from holding a handheld mobile telephone, PDA, device with mobile data access, laptop, pager, electronic game, broadband personal communication device, two-way messaging device, or any portable computing device to compose, send, read, view, access, browse, transmit, save or retrieve e-mail, text messages or other electronic data while driving. It also bans viewing, taking or transmitting images, or playing games on such devices while driving. Motorists face a maximum of $150 for the violation.