Pending Gov. George Pataki’s signature, New York appears to be the first state to ban motorists from talking on hand-held cell phones. The state Assembly approved the legislation 125-19 yesterday, the state Senate last week and Pataki has said he will sign the bill.

"We hope the people have enough respect for the law that they stop doing it now because it is a danger," Pataki said. "It is a distraction."

The law will go into effect November 1, but violators will be issued warnings for the first 30 days. As of December 1, motorists using hand-held cell phones for non-emergency reasons will face fines of up to $100.

As an incentive for motorists to use hands-free devices, violators could have their tickets dismissed until the end of February if they present the judge with a receipt showing they bought a hands-free cell phone system.

First-time violators will face a $100 fine. A second conviction calls for a $200 fine and every subsequent violation will cost $500.

Similar legislation in neighboring Connecticut died in May when the state Senate's public safety committee refused to take up the issue because it said not enough lawmakers on the committee supported the measure.