A proposal by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, to raise fines for drivers who text while behind the wheel passed through the state Senate Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 28, and now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk.
Senate Bill 1310 raises the fine for the first violation of the law from $20 to $30. For subsequent offenses, the fine would go up from $50 to $60. When other penalties and fees are included, the total cost for a driver texting behind the wheel would rise from $159 to $199, Simitian said in a statement. For a second offense, it would rise from about $279 to $371. If the bill is approved, the second violation would also add a "point" to the driver's record.
Simitian, who has authored various prior bills restricting texting for motorists, had tried to raise the fine for the violation last year but saw his proposal fizzle under Brown's veto. In a statement, Simitian said the he hopes to "find common ground with the Governor" with the new proposal, which includes lower fines than last year's version.
Simitian said that while existing laws restricting texting while driving appear to be working, there are still too many drivers texting and talking on hand-held cell phones. The new bill, he said, "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."
"I believe we can do better and save even more lives," Simitian said in a statement.