California Senates Wants Tougher Cell Laws, But Some Are Opposed

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Let this be a warning to all those people who continue to drive while texting or talking on a handheld cellphone:  you might soon be facing even steeper penalties.

That’s because the State Senate yesterday voted 24-9 to adopt a bill that would increase the fines levied against those persons caught in breach of California’s ban against texting while driving and talking on a cellular device that’s not handsfree.  The bill has been passed on to the State Assembly.

The new bill would make it so that first time violators have to pay $30, a significant $10 increase from what’s currently on the books.  However, this number jumps to $199 when court fees are taken into account.  For persons who have already committed the offense yet get caught again, they’ll be forced to pay around $371.  Their driver’s record will also incur a point.

Not everyone seems completely sold on this idea, though.  Although the proponents of the bill cite statistics which show a decrease in both distracted driving and death resulting from same, other senators believe that regular citizens think the measure is trivial.  One senator stated that he would like to see more emphasis placed on erratic drivers, not just people with phones to their ear or in their hands.

The bill still has a ways to go.  Last year, the governor vetoed a similar measure that drastically raised the first time penalty to $50.  The governor reportedly nixed the bill because he thought that what was on the books was already sufficient.