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Cuomo proposes stricter DWI, teen texting penalties

ALBANY -- Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed strengthening penalties against teens who text behind the wheel and repeat drunk drivers during his State of the State address Wednesday.

Cuomo proposed a one year driving suspension for teens caught texting while driving.

"To me it's more about the message than it is the penalty. I think the penalty is perfectly fine and ultimately I hope there's a stigma that comes with texting and driving because when you're driving a 4,000 pound machine you can kill someone or injure yourself", said Saratoga County District Attorney Jim Murphy.

Saratoga and Albany Counties have Alive at 25 programs, which work to educate teens and young adults about their poor driving habits, and hope Cuomo will eventually look to expand the effort.

"That's a fruitful program that I think is beneficial to anybody and that's something I'd like to see spread out next time the state of the state comes around," said Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple.

Cuomo is also proposing stiffer penalties for repeat drunk drivers by revoking their licenses after three DWIs.

"Those increased penalties and those increased fines are definitely going to be more of a deterrent to the guy who thinks he's going to take that chance and try to get home after having a few too many", said Apple.

Some questioned whether the stricter penalties would lead to an increase in unlicensed drivers getting behind the wheel, but Murphy said they'd work to enforce the penalties.

"There are lots of downsides of course, court time may take longer, defendants won't take plea bargains, there will be trials, but that's what we're here for. Were here to make sure our roads are safe," said Murphy. "I also think people just need the keys to drive. That's been long standing so whether there's an enhanced penalty or the same penalty it's not going to matter. People will drive no matter what, but this will, we think, make them think twice about it and if they're caught certainly there's a longer penalty and I think that's appropriate."

 
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