In the last six months, police have ticketed more than 30,000 drivers
across the state for using hand-held cell phones. As part of the
crackdown, police must check a box on accident reports that indicates
whether cell phone use contributed to the accident.
Last November, New York became the first state to pass a law outlawing
the practice of driving with a hand-held cell phone. According to
a published release, drivers were given a one-month grace period
during which police issued warnings. In December, police began giving
tickets carrying fines of up to $100 for a first offense. Most of
the tickets issued have been in conjunction with speeding violations,
according to the (Albany) Times Union. And, some judges have shown
leniency to out-of-state drivers who may be unfamiliar with the
law, only charging visitors the mandated $35 court fee, the paper
"Troopers do take this offense seriously, and we are continuing
to ticket drivers who refuse to obey this law," said State
Police Sgt. Glenn Miner. "Once the officer confirms there is
a hand-held phone in the vehicle, it would provide the probable
cause to write a ticket."
In the first month troopers issued 303 tickets, statewide. But
over the next five months troopers nearly doubled that monthly average,
and by the end of May had ticketed a total of 3,479 drivers. Reportedly,
that includes 375 tickets in the state's capital city.
Through the end of February, drivers were allowed to bring a receipt
to court proving they had bought a hands-free device in order to
get the ticket dismissed. But the grace period has expired and chatty
drivers are now forking over the full fine.