Feedback: Across NY, Police Crack Down On 'Handheld' Devices

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State police have launched another crackdown on people who use their cell phones and other handheld devices while driving. 

Dubbed 'Operation Hang Up,' the campaign runs through Sunday.

The campaign is the latest part of a get tough effort directed at people who use handheld devices as they drive.

In the first few months of this year, more than 65,000 motorists have been ticketed. In northern New York, drivers in St. Lawrence County were issued 578 tickets, in Jefferson County, 175 tickets and in Lewis County, 43 tickets.

And Governor Cuomo toughened the law last summer, making the use of a handheld device while driving a three point offense.

To state police in the north country and elsewhere, the sense of the law is simple.

"Try to prevent distracted driving through handheld electronic devices, and if we can prevent that, we can prevent accidents and injuries and fatalities," said Brian McDermott, a state police sergeant.

However, the law is apparently not consistent. A handheld device that is cradled to the vehicle's dashboard, and operated through the dashboard controls, is apparently legal. Such controls are increasingly common, as are sophisticated dashboard audio and GPS systems.

"The law is written quite specific," McDermott notes. "If it's in your hand and you're using it, and the vehicle is in motion, you're in violation."

Dashboard or steering wheel controls are increasingly common, as are sophisticated dashboard audio and GPS systems.

Regardless, say police, they can pose a problem.

""We don't want any kind of distracted driving, whether it's legitimate or illegal," McDermott said.

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Friday, December 19, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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