Young drivers now face tougher distracted driving penalties

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York state is imposing tougher penalties on motorists who use hand-held mobile phones while driving.

Beginning Saturday, young and new drivers caught texting or using a cell phone without a hands-free device face a 120-day license suspension. A second offense will lead to a year-long suspension.

More experienced motorists with also face steeper fines for repeat offenses. Currently, drivers found to be using a hand-held phone twice within an 18-month period are fined $200. As of Saturday, the penalty will increase to $250.

The $50 fine for a first offense will remain unchanged.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says driving habits develop early and the tougher penalties will remind younger drivers that texting while driving is unsafe and unacceptable.

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