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The debate about texting while driving and the dangers it presents isn't so much a "debate" anymore; rather, it is a disagreement over what system best limits (or potentially eliminates) the dangerous driving act. Few people still think texting while driving is not dangerous. It takes your eyes off the road for a relatively long time (five seconds, according to a distracted driving website) and a lot can change on the road during that period of distraction.

It is easy to agree -- and New Yorkers should agree -- that texting while driving is dangerous. However, no matter how you feel about this driving act, you should feel sympathy for someone who is accused or charged with the act under wrongful or incorrect circumstances.

New York recently changed the laws that relate to texting while driving, increasing the number of points that are put on someone's driver's license for violating the law while also bolstering the fine associated with the violation. Will they discourage people from texting while driving? Maybe, but people will still negligently do it.

What this change does (in addition to possibly discouraging some potential texting drivers) is further punish people for the same act. Say someone is pulled over by a police officer who did not have probable cause. The accused driver could be harshly penalized under wrongful circumstances.

In addition, these traffic stops can lead to additional charges: relatively minor infractions like failing to wear a seatbelt, or major crimes like drug possession. The police must have probable cause to pull you over and search your vehicle. Without that, the traffic stop is illegal.

Source: WKBW, "State Changes Texting And Driving Laws," Desiree Wiley, Oct. 9, 2013

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