$150 fine for texting while driving

Texting while driving is not only dangerous, it’s now against the law in Oneida County.

As of today, a law took effect that makes it illegal for drivers to let their fingers do the talking as they drive around the county. Violators can get a $150 ticket. No points are assessed to a violator’s license.

County legislators unanimously passed the measure, 28-0, aimed cutting down on distracted drivers, especially among young people, on March 11. No one spoke for or against the county law at a subsequent public hearing.

Texting while driving has been cited as a contributing cause of three deadly accidents in upstate that claimed the lives of people between 16 and 22 years old.

New York already bans the use of handheld cell phones by drivers to cut down on distracted driving, but it is widely ignored. It does not cover text messaging. At least eight states and the District of Columbia already ban texting while driving, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Several counties in New York have already passed measures similar to Oneida County’s or are considering them.