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When the state budget is voted on and passed later this week, it will include higher, tougher penalties for distracted drivers.
Under the current law, in New York state, there is no minimum fine for a distracted driving ticket. The maximum fine for texting while driving is $150 and the maximum fine for talking and driving without a hands-free set is $100. Repeat offenders don't face any sort of enhanced fines.
However, if the budget passes, penalties for texting while driving and driving while talking on the phone will be the same. The minimum fine will be set at $50. The first offense will carry a $150 maximum fine. The second offense committed within 18 months will carry a $200 maximum fine. Three or more offenses within 18 months, the maximum fine is $400.
These fines are on top of the three penalty points offenders will get on their driving record for each violation.
According to lawmakers, the new fines go after repeat offenders and they hopes it will make first time offenders think twice before driving distracted again.
Larry Scott of the Morgan School of Driving in Rochester says the dangers of distracted driving are a lesson he has to constantly teach his students.
"[We teach it] more and more, because even in the classroom, it's sometimes difficult for people to put their phones down," Scott said.
Scott believes increasing the fines are a good idea.
"Sometimes the consequences have to be enough so that you have to think twice about it," he explained. "People will not stop [driving distracted] unless there is a reason to stop doing it."
Also in the budget, there are plans to start implementing a $25 state surcharge for people who plea down a speeding ticket. The governor originally sought an $80 state surcharge.
Lawmakers are expected vote on the budget later this week.