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7,500 drivers ticketed for texts since July

ALBANY — New York officials say about 7,500 drivers around the state have gotten tickets since a tougher law against texting while driving kicked in last July.

They say another 111,000 tickets were written for violating laws against using handheld devices behind the wheel.

The new law made using handheld devices a primary offense, meaning police could begin stopping people for using them, rather ticketing them only when there was another reason for the stop. The law also increased the penalty for using a cellphone or other device without a hands-free kit from two to three points on a driver’s license.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the stepped up enforcement should send a message to motorists about the danger of distracted driving.