NYS Lawmaker Proposes Tougher Penalties For Drivers Who Text


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Assemblyman Felix Ortiz says he has drafted a new bill that would toughen the penalty for drivers who text behind the wheel.

It comes on the heels of an accident in which a 53-year-old man was hit and critically injured Sunday night when a woman struck him with her car as he sat on his delivery scooter at Avenue P and East 17th Street in Midwood.

Tian Sheng Lin is on life support at Kings County Hospital and a lawyer for his family says he is not expected to recover.

Under the current law, drivers face a fine if they are caught texting while driving. Ortiz, who wrote the first bill, says in cases where the victim dies or is seriously injured, the perpetrator should be charged with a felony.

“When you have a person that is under the influence of DUI and passes a stop sign or a red light, then one plus one equals two so they get two sentences instead of one and it gets classified as a homicide. So my bill is going to be within the same lines regarding cell phones and text messaging,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz says a few senators have already expressed interest in cosponsoring the legislation.

(Source: NY1)


  1. #1: one problem is they often lack proof– I had to bring my phone bill to court to prove I wasn’t on my cell phone when I got a ticket– not sure what the cop thought she saw.

    Besides, why are cell phones worse than eating with one hand, putting on makeup, handing your kid a bag of pretzels, playing with the radio, etc. Reckless driving is reckless driving, but talking on the phone is not necessarily reckless driving. There are people who drive recklessly while they talk and others who don’t. Unless the gov is going to start enforcing two-hands-on-the-wheel at all times, which is completely unrealistic, then they need to be consistent.

    If anything I find the whole “hands-free” rule to be far more difficult than when I used to just talk on the phone with the one hand I wasn’t driving with anyway.

    And Moose, NO, texting is NOT more dangerous than a DUI– at least you have your reflexes and vision when you text. There’s a reason why there’s an article about texting being the cause of a tragic death. Drunk driving kills people every day unfortunately, lo aleinu.