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New York state lawmakers want to change the “culture” of texting and driving among young drivers, which is why they say they passed a $137.9 billion budget last week that includes tougher penalties for inexperienced drivers who text while behind the wheel.

A spokesman for AAA New York said the state now has some of the strictest texting while driving penalties in the country.

The state budget agreement includes a license suspension of 120 days for drivers who are under the age of 18 or have a probationary license, even on a first conviction.

A state lawmaker from Monroe County said the stricter penalties are working toward "changing the culture for everyone's public safety."

The provision was adapted from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal of a one-year suspension for the same conviction.

State lawmakers did not include in the budget the governor’s call for a lifelong license revocation for drivers of any age who are convicted of their third drunk or drugged driving offense. But it is expected that lawmakers could take up the issue again at the end of the legislative session in June.

There is no doubt that Gov. Cuomo has made driving offenses one of his primary targets during his tenure.

In 2011, he successfully pushed for harsher punishments against distracted drivers. Additionally, as we have reported in past posts, traffic tickets are currently on the rise in New York and “hidden” traffic cameras are cracking down on thousands of speeding drivers.

Anyone who is charged with a traffic violation in New York needs to take the allegations more seriously than ever with the recent enhancements in traffic laws. Not only does being convicted of traffic offenses risk hefty fines and increased insurance costs, it can also impede on a person’s freedom when license suspensions are involved.

Source: WGRZ.com, “NY budget includes tougher texting penalties for new, young drivers,” Ashley Hupfi, April 2, 2014

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