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County texting ban passes

Beginning March 1, driving and texting on a cell phone in Schenectady County will be banned. Schenectady County joins several others in the state that have already banned the practice, including Monroe, Westchester and Suffolk counties.

If convicted of driving and texting, the violator will be faced with a $150 fine.

This is a long overdue, smart government initiative, said Susan Savage, D-Niskayuna, chairwoman of the Schenectady County Legislature.

The County Legislature passed the law in an 11-to-2 vote, with two legislators absent, at the Tuesday, Dec. 9, meeting. Jim Buhrmaster, R-Glenville, and Joe Suhrada, R-Rotterdam, voted against it.

Surhada stated that the legislature should be focusing on the county's fiscal situation instead of focusing on a texting ban.

"While our County Legislature should be focusing on fixing the fiscal disaster that they've created in the last five years, we should put all of our attention into doing what we can to alleviate the burden that's on the taxpayers," said Surhada. "I'm not saying that kids should be driving around texting, but on the other hand, the swerving and the driving poorly is already cause to pull them over. Officers have their discretion."

Surhada also said a texting ban should be something dealt with on the state level, and having a ban on texting in various counties throughout the state doesn't make sense because there are times when drivers don't know that they're in Schenectady County.

Several legislators spoke in support of the new law.

Brian Gordon, D-Niskayuna, said that as a physician, it's baffling for him to understand why anyone wouldn't support a law promoting public safety.

Vincent DiCerbo, D-Schenectady, said that he's been driving back and forth from Schenectady to Albany for the past 30 years and has noticed people text messaging in their cars on highways and swerving between lanes. He said he is glad that locals can do something to make a change as opposed to waiting for the state to enact a ban.

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