2017-04-05 / Front Page

Cops Crack Down On Texting Motorists

By Liz Goff
State and Queens police officials this week are reminding motorists t think twice before texting behind the wheel.

Officials said New York State has one of the strictest laws in the nation, banning the use of hand-held electronic devices while driving – a measure that is enforced by cops throughout Queens on a daily basis.

Police hope to deter motorists who text while driving through a series of initiatives based on the law, sources said. Under an initiative dubbed, “Operation Hang Up,” officers will pull over motorists caught talking or texting while driving and slap them with summonses for violating the state ban.

The law makes using a handheld electronic device a “primary offense,” giving police the authority to stop and summons drivers they spot texting or playing with a device while driving. Previous laws only allowed police to issue a traffic violation for “distracted driving” if they caught the motorist in a similar offense.

Under the existing law, motorists are slapped with three points against a driver’s license and a $150 fine when they are caught using a hand-held device while driving. Motorists who rack up 11 points in moving violations over an 18-month period could lose their license, authorities said.

In a new twist, motorists caught holding a hand-held electronic device while driving may also be ticketed.

“If you’re holding the device in your hand, the presumption is, you’re using it,” law enforcement officials said.

The law does not penalize motorists using an electronic device or a GPS that is affixed to any surface inside a vehicle. Motorists who are calling police or other emergency responders are also exempt from the law.

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