State senate passes distracted-driving bill

Fines for cell-phone use while driving could increase by $10

A bill that would increase the base fines for distracted driving passed the California State Senate Tuesday, May 15.

Senate Bill 1310, authored by state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), would increase first offense fines for driving while using a cell phone without a hands-free device from $10 to $20 and subsequent fines from $50 to $60.

The bill passed by a vote of 24-9 but must also be approved by the state assembly and Gov. Jerry Brown.

After penalties and court fees, the violations would translate to roughly $251 or $372 out-of-pocket. The extra $10 incurred would go directly to the Distracted Driving Education Fund.

The bill would also assess a driving violation point on the motorists' driving record for a second offense.

Another change to existing law would be that law enforcement officers would have the ability to stop a vehicle for the sole purpose of determining whether or not the driver was using a cell phone while driving.

The bill would extend distracted driving fines to bicyclists as well. The fines would be $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense. Bicyclists would not receive a point on their driving record for multiple offenses.

Studies found that in the two years following the adoption of the 2008 distracted driving law, cell-phone-related driver deaths decreased by 47 percent. Overall traffic-related deaths also fell by 22 percent.

Cell phone convictions have been on the rise every year with a total of 460,487 convictions in 2011, according to California DMV reports. That is a 22 percent increase from 2010 (361,260) and a 52 percent increase from 2009 (301,833).

Simitian has additionally authored Senate Bill 28 and 33. SB28 banned all text-messaging while driving in 2008, and SB33 prohibited drivers under the age of 18 from using a cell phone under any circumstances, with or without a hands-free device.


Like this comment
Posted by MADD
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 15, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Distracted driving kills innocent people. Why isn't that fact enough to get people to quit?

Hopefully this law and the associated enforcement will stop the reckless drivers that are too selfish to save lives because it is the right thing to do.

Like this comment
Posted by J.R. Zar
a resident of another community
on May 15, 2012 at 9:00 pm

MIAmobi™ provides a tool to help not only teens but everyone from being distracted by cell phones. One of these tools is the SilentPocket. If we start getting people to use the MIAmobi SilentPocket™ “It will save lives” Out site out of mind. Helps prevent texting and driving. Voicemail rings, beeps, blings or vibes will not be heard. Voicemail, Texts and email will be received once the device is taken out of the SilentPocket.

Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 17, 2012 at 1:10 pm

This is a VERY BAD IDEA.

I am totally against distracted driving, I see it everyday in almost every trip I make in the Bay Area.

But existing laws would cover anything I see … the problem is not the law it is the law enforcement.

Passing this law is just going to allow Police to "claim" whatever they want in terms of whether anyone was driving distracted.

Once I already got a ticket by a Mountain View officer who followed me on night from the Safeway on Shoreline all the way up to the border of Palo Alto, finally pulling me over and giving me a ticket because "she" claimed that my front tire had gone into the bicycle lane back somewhere near Central Expressway. That was the first ticket I had gotten in 10 or so years, on the whim of the officer who just decided she did not like me I guess.

If there is something that almost every driver does once a day at some point, making it illegal and a ticketable offense is tantamount to just allowing harrasment and bullying of citizens that the Police do not approve of for some reason.

This law will merely be a license to pull over people the Police do not like, and then give people tickets to create revenue.

Please just enforce the current laws and do not expand anything.

The legal system, particular the motor vehicle code should be kept sweet and simple so people know what to do and are clear when they made a mistake.

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