Troopers to crack down on using mobile devices while driving in St. Lawrence County April 10 - 15
Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 5:55 pm

State police in St. Lawrence County will increase road checkpoints April 10 to 15 as part of “Operation Hang Up.”

Troopers will be cracking down on drivers who use mobile devices while driving.

This effort combines periods of intense enforcement of anti-texting and hand held cell phone laws coupled with advertising and media outreach to let people know about the enforcement and convince them to obey the law.

“Electronic devices have become commonplace in our lives, but they have no place in the hands of a driver,” said Major Richard Smith, who commands Troop B. “I’ve instructed our troopers to take a zero-tolerance stance.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2012, 3,328 people across the country were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver and an estimated 421,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. Additionally, 10 percent of fatal crashes were reported as distraction-affected crashes.

Current laws include strict penalties for distracted drivers:

• For a first offense, the minimum fine is $50 and maximum fine increases to $150.

• For a second offense committed within 18 months, the minimum fine is $50 and the maximum fine increases to $200.

• For a third or subsequent offense committed within 18 months, the minimum fine is $50 and the maximum fine increases to $400.

Beginning on November 1, 2014 new laws take effect for young drivers:

· Young and new drivers convicted of texting-while-driving will have their license suspended for 120 days on the first offense.

· For second offense, young and new drivers will have their license suspended for one full year.

Troopers will be using both marked state police vehicles and concealed identity traffic enforcement (CITE) vehicles as part of the operation in order to more easily identify motorists who are using handheld devices while driving.

Troopers say CITE vehicles allow police to better observe distracted driving violations. These vehicles blend in with every day traffic but are unmistakable as emergency vehicles once the emergency lighting is activated. The state police fleet of CITE vehicles are unmarked and come in a variety of colors to ensure that they blend in with traffic on the road. They are also equipped with hidden high intensity emergency lights.

During the last “Operation Hang Up” campaign from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, 2013, state police issued more than 875 tickets. More than 625 tickets were issued for talking on a cell phone without a hands free device while driving and more than 250 of the tickets were for texting or using an electronic device while driving.