Stiff fines for drivers caught texting or talking behind the wheel

(AP) - Drivers caught talking or texting on theircell phones now face another punishment: two points on theirlicense.

The new punishment imposed by the state Department of MotorVehicles takes effect today. Points can lead to higher autoinsurance costs and a suspension of a driver's license if a persongets 11 points within 18 months.

It has been illegal to use a cell phone without a hands-freeaccessory since 2001 in New York. The law was enforced only with aticket and fine up until now. But the DMV decided to add the pointspunishment to reduce the number of distracted driving incidents.

According to the DMV, driver distraction contributes to at leastone of five crashes statewide.

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