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New York steps up distracted driving traffic violations


New Yorkers who are stopped by law enforcement when out on the road and accused of a traffic violation might not think it is that much to worry about. Once they realize the scope of the penalties including a possible fine and points on the driver's license, they quickly realize that it is not something to take lightly. Law enforcement frequently introduces stricter enforcement of certain traffic violations intermittently. Drivers who are cited should know the potential penalties they will face and the negative impact it can have on their lives.

One violation that is in the news and treated as a growing problem is distracted driving. Since April is "National Distracted Driving Awareness Month," New York State law enforcement increased its enforcement for several days in the middle of the month. Drivers who were ticketed should know the consequences for the violation and take steps to dispute the citation. These include fines and points on the driver's license. For probationary and junior drivers who have a Class DJ or MJ driver's license or learner's permit, they will have a driver's license suspension for 120 days. Subsequent violations could lead to a revocation of driving privileges. Points on a driver's license for anyone can raise insurance rates and eventually lead to a suspension and revocation.

In what is known as "Operation Hang Up," officers were in marked and unmarked vehicles to watch for distracted drivers. The number of tickets given for these violations has increased by 1,100 percent in the state from 2011 to 2017. From 2016 to 2017, there was a 20 percent increase. The rise of smartphones and drivers continually driving while using them is believed to have sparked the growing number of violations. During 2017's "Operation Hang Up," the state gave out more than 2,100 tickets for distracted driving violations.

Although the number of accidents that are believed to be due to distracted driving is a reasonable justification for greater enforcement, it does not mean that drivers are automatically guilty when they are cited. While law enforcement and legislators trying to make the roads safer is a noble endeavor, it does not mean that drivers should simply accept the ticket for distracted driving without protest if there might be a viable defense. Avoiding the litany of penalties that come with a ticket for distracted driving is wise and a legal professional experienced in helping drivers who have been cited is critical.

Source: patch.com, "Distracted Driving Crackdown Through This Weekend In New York," Lanning Taliaferro, April 12, 2018

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