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State senate votes to toughen texting law

ALBANY — The state Senate has passed legislation that would allow police to stop and ticket motorists for texting while driving.

Sen. Carl Marcellino, a Long Island Republican and the bill’s primary sponsor, says all police will have to do is see a driver holding a cell phone as grounds to pull them over.

It’s already a primary traffic offense to talk on a hand-held phone while driving in New York. Hands-free phones are permitted.

However, using a portable electronic device while driving is currently a secondary offense, which means that a person can’t be stopped solely for driving while texting.

There must be some other offense like speeding. The legislation would upgrade it to a primary offense.

The Senate voted 57-3 in favor Tuesday.

A companion bill is in the Assembly.