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Thinking of answering that text as you're tooling down a New York highway? Think again, as doing so may very well wind up with you receiving a traffic violation for texting while driving.

New York state troopers are now patrolling the highways in unmarked SUVs that sit up high enough for troopers to glance down and easily identify those drivers who are distracted by texting, using hand-held cellphones to carry on conversations or even checking directions from a GPS device.

While the cellphone old law (1225-c2a) used to only cover talking on the cell phone the new and improved law 1225-d disallowed the use of any hand held electronic device, including texting and using your phone as a GPS. All of the above violations now carry 5 DMV points. 

New York's aggressive stance against distracted driving is one of the strongest in the nation, and with it comes higher fines and penalties which can impose five points on a motorist's driving record and cause his or her auto insurance costs to rise precipitously.

While troopers are serious about targeting and ticketing drivers for these offenses, on occasion they will give warnings, like the trooper who gave a warning to a physician who claimed to be telephoning her office to let them know she would be running late. A Montrose accountant was not so lucky when claiming he was reading a map displayed on his cellular phone. He was ticketed.

In an effort to accommodate drivers who rely heavily on cellular communications, New York has established 91 rest areas and other spots on the highways as "Texting Zones," with advertisements stating, "It can wait. Text stop 5 miles." It is believed that New York is the groundbreaking state in the nation to establish these zones designed to combat accidents and highway fatalities by compelling drivers to put their devices down, return their hands to the wheel and keep their attention to the road.

While it is every driver's duty to adhere to the rules of the road for the sake of all, if you receive a ticket for a traffic violation like texting while driving that you feel is unjust, you have the right to challenge it in court and should obtain qualified representation to present your best defense.

Source: foxnews.com, "NY troopers in big SUVs peer in on texting drivers" No author given, Nov. 26, 2013

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