Schenectady County

First Schenectady County texting ticket issued

Eddie Cintron unwittingly made Schenectady County history Thursday afternoon.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Eddie Cintron unwittingly made Schenectady County history Thursday afternoon.

The 31-year-old Brandywine Avenue man was navigating his vehicle though the city when he became the first motorist to run up against the county’s ban on texting while driving. Lt. Jason Temple was on duty heading toward the Schenectady County Sheriff’s Department in a marked cruiser when he noticed Cintron driving with a mobile device in his hands near the intersection of Nott Street and Van Vranken Avenue, he said.

“The guy had his cellphone in front of his face and he was just clicking away,” he said. “He didn’t have a hands-free device or anything.”

Having made the direct observation, Temple flagged Cintron and became the first law enforcement officer to issue a “0608 local law” citation, returnable to city court at a later date. The ticket carries no points but a hefty $150 fine.

Just two days before the traffic stop, Temple was among a group of patrolmen that expressed dismay that a motorist hadn’t yet been caught. He suggested that the lack of tickets might be resulting from motorists being keenly aware of marked police cruisers and dropping their phones in mid-text before getting busted.

Temple said that Cintron didn’t admit to the violation. But he said the driver’s actions were plainly visible as he was making his turn.

“I guess it’s just luck of the draw,” he said.

Cintron could not be reached for comment.

County Attorney Chris Gardner said the first ticket is an indication that law enforcement officers are starting to watch for the infractions a bit closer. He admitted that keeping an eye out for a texting driver is a bit more difficult than a motorist talking on a cellphone.

“You’ve got to get the police used to looking for it,” he said. “It’s a little more difficult than the police looking out for people using a cellphones.”

And the citation in the city may not be the only one. Gardner said a witness to a motor vehicle accident that occurred over the Fourth of July weekend indicated that the driver may have been texting at the time.

“We’re hoping this will begin to reduce that particular problem,” he said.

Gardner doesn’t anticipate the county seeing a flood of texting while driving citations but does foresee a steady stream. He frequently sees motorists who appear to be texting behind the wheel.

“I see it occur, so I’m sure other people have, too,” he said.

If a motorist fights the ticket in court, prosecution would be handled by one of Schenectady County’s assistant district attorneys. Prosecutor Robert Carney said he was unaware of the first citation being issued and reserved comments on the case.

“It’s the first I’ve heard about it, so I’ll be talking to my assistant,” he said Tuesday.

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