Add Ithaca, New York, to the cities in America that are showing zero tolerance for distracted driving, Ithaca police announced this week they are starting a month long campaign focused almost exclusively on finding and fining drivers who are violating the state’s hands-free devices law.

In New York state it is illegal for drivers to use a handheld device to talk, text or send and receive emails while they are behind the wheel. Violators of the law can be fined as much as $150 and have as many as three points added to their New York state driver’s license.

As part of the month long campaign Ithaca police will also be warning drivers about the dangers of distracted driving and the risks they run when they try to drive without paying full attention to what is going on around them. Distracted driving is bad when the driver is talking on their cell, but even something as simple as talking to a passenger in the backseat or changing the radio station can be enough to cause a vehicle crash.

Ithaca police have increased patrols for the month to get the word out and catch distracted drivers using grant money provided the New York Governors Traffic Safety Committee. the money, part of the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program, is meant to help police departments pay for additional patrols and provide public education during the increased enforcement campaign.

Anyone driving in the state of New York should be aware of the distracted driving law, especially if they are planning to drive in the Ithaca area this month.