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Assemblyman Felix Ortiz 51st A.D.

Albany Office District Office
Room 826, Legislative Office Building 404 55st Street
Albany, New York 12248 Brooklyn, New York 11220
518-455-3821 718-492-6334

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Caesar Nguyen

September 21, 2010 (518) 455-3821

“Tougher Punishment for Texting While Driving”

Assemblyman Felix Ortiz introduces legislation that makes talking and texting while driving
a felony in certain instances.

(Albany, N.Y) – Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz (51st AD, Brooklyn) was extremely upset
upon hearing the news about a horrible crash on Sunday night, September 19, in Midwood,
Brooklyn, which involved a 19 year old female driver plowing her car into a scooter driven by
Tian Sheng Lin. The victim was declared brain-dead at Kings County Hospital a short time later.
The cause of the accident is being blamed on texting while driving. “This kind of senseless tragic
accident would not have happened if the driver had been focused on the road instead of texting.
It is time to put a stop to this type of behavior before another life is lost”, said Ortiz.

As a result of this latest incident, Assemblyman Ortiz is introducing legislation that would
impose tougher penalties for those responsible for text/cell phone related accidents. Specifically,
Ortiz’ bill would allow felony charges to be brought against a driver who is the cause of an
accident which results in death or serious injury of an individual because the driver is texting or
talking on a cell phone

Assemblyman Ortiz has long been a champion for banning distractions while driving,
having been the first legislator in the country to introduce legislation banning the use of cell
phone while driving. His legislation became law in 2001. In 2007, Assemblyman Ortiz introduced
legislation to prohibit writing, sending or reading text messages on cell phones while driving. The
New York State Legislature passed such a law which banned texting while driving last year and
imposes a fine of one hundred and fifty dollars for anyone in violation. However, this penalty
does not properly impress the severity of the dangers caused by texting while driving. The fine
only applies for secondary offense. Assemblyman Ortiz is pushing for harsher punishment,
making texting while driving a primary offense, and punishable by a felony.

A person simply cannot drive attentively when searching for the needed letters or symbols
for texting. Concentration on a text message rather than the road leads to swerving or lane
drifting, tailgating, cutting off another driver or hitting another car which may result in fatal
accidents. “Each year more and more people are seriously injured or killed on our highways
because of the recklessness of inattentive drivers. We have a responsibility to put an end to such
senseless accidents and to keep our highways safe. We can achieve this end by enforcing stricter
laws which ban talking and texting while driving,” said Ortiz.

Today also marks the second national Distracted Driving Summit, held by the U.S
Department of Transportation in Washington DC. Assemblyman Ortiz hopes that the results of
the summit can provide law enforcement nationwide tools to put an end to distracted driving
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