State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) is the godfather of hands-free laws in California. Now, his latest bill has landed on the governor’s desk.
According to Simitian’s office, Senate Bill 1310 increases the base fines for violating the hands-free cell phone and no texting while driving laws from $20 to $30 for a first offense, and from $50 to $60 for a subsequent offense.
With penalties and fees, the total cost of a first offense would rise to approximately $199, while a second offense would set you back about $371. The extra money would be used to fund a distracted driving education program in the California Office of Traffic Safety.
A second violation would add a “point” on a motorist’s driving record.
“Research has shown that our distracted driving laws are working,” Simitian said. “Yet we know there are still far too many drivers texting and talking on hand-held cell phones. This bill would toughen penalties, add the deterrent of a point on the driving record, and help fund a program to spread the word among those drivers that no text or phone call is worth the cost of a life.”
In March, the California Office of Traffic Safety reported that overall traffic deaths declined by 22 percent, while deaths specifically attributed to driver hand-held cell phone use went down 47 percent following the implementation of the hands-free law.
The Governor has until September 30 to act on the measure.
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