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In brief

Saturday, January 26, 2013 - Updated: 5:31 PM

Drivers who speed or gab could pay more

ALBANY (AP) -- Getting caught speeding or gabbing on the cellphone while driving could become costlier under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget proposals.

Proposals to limit plea deals for flagrant speeders and an expansion of the $80 state surcharge on traffic tickets to cover common parking violations speeders plead down to were included in Cuomo's executive budget this week. People who talk and text on their cellphones while driving also could face stiffer fines under the measures being considered by the state Legislature.

The changes would initially bring in $16 million for New York state and $25 million a year after that. The Cuomo administration said the proposals also would make the roads safer.

The governor proposes that fines for talking or texting on the phone while driving be at least $50 and rise to a maximum of $550 for multiple violations. There are currently no minimum penalties. Fines are currently capped at $100 for talking and $150 for texting. Cuomo's budget memo said the stiffer fines will prod phone users to change their ways.

Some drivers asked about the potential for stiffer fines agreed -- to a point.

"I think fines scare some people, but only for a little while," University at Albany student Amanda Cuerbo said. "I don't text while I drive, but when my mom or dad call, I'm going to pick it up."

The governor also is trying to tap the brakes on speeders taking plea deals, particularly for drivers clocked at more than 20 mph over the speed limit. Plea deals to lesser violations are common in local courts and spare drivers from accumulating too many violation points on their license. Of 393,000 "non-moving" convictions statewide tallied by the administration over a year, about 77,000 were pleaded down from speeding tickets and roughly 20,000 of those were initially for driving 20 mph over the speed limit.

Cops: Teen tweeted threat to rival school

ISLIP (AP) -- Police say a Long Island teen's Twitter threat to blow up a rival high school's gym has spurred his arrested and prompted school officials to bar all students from the two schools' basketball game.

Steven Taggert was arrested Friday on a false-reporting charge. Police say he wasn't actually poised to attack Kings Park High School. A man who answered the phone at Taggert's Islip home declined to comment and hung up.

Suffolk County police say Islip and Kings Park students were trash-tweeting ahead of Friday's matchup.

Police say the 16-year-old Taggert tweeted that he'd gotten a bomb to blow up the Kings Park gym.

     

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