A bill proposed in the California State Senate hikes thefines for the illegal use of a cell phone while driving. A California StateSenate committee approved the bill this week.
The current law, which went into effect July 1, 2008, finesdrivers who are holding a cell phone $20 for a first offense and $50 forrepeated offenses. Drivers are allowed to make calls with hands-free devices,except those under age 18. A ban on texting while driving took effect at thebeginning of 2009.
The new bill would charge drivers who are holding a cellphone $50 for a first offense and $100 for repeated offenses. The fines fortexting while driving would increase to $100. Court costs and fees would betacked on to the fines, which would make the fines $255 for cell phone usersand $445 for texters. In addition, drivers would receive a point on theirdriving records for violations. The new rules also would apply to bicyclists,but they would receive much lower fines – $20 for a first offense, $50 for asecond, with no additional fees added.
According to the California Highway Patrol, trafficaccidents have dropped 20 percent from the previous five-year average before 2008.Approximately 275,000 tickets were issued in California in 2009 for using hand-held cellphones while driving.