Bill to curb texting behind the wheel moves ahead

Simitian's proposal seeking to raise fines for distracted drivers heads to the Gov. Jerry Brown's desk

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.


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Posted by Won't Work Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 29, 2012 at 10:08 am

This is nonsense. At any red light you can spot them, the people dropping their heads to play on their phones. You see people talking on handhelds while driving all the time as well. Every day, every time I'm in the car for more than about 10 minutes. We need a group like MADD to form in order to lobby against the phone companies lobbyists.
If its as dangerous as drunk driving, we should copy the punishments that have lead to the decline of drunk driving. Huge fines, jail/community service, license suspension, points on the driving record, weekly education classes, increased insurance rates. This is what's needed to curb this behavior.

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Posted by tougher penalties
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 29, 2012 at 10:22 am

I know 2 people (pedestrians) who were killed by drivers using cell phones. One was texting while driving when he hit my friend. I agree with the previous comment that penalties and enforcement need to be much tougher. Adding points for cell phone offenses is a first step, but this needs to go much further. I hope that Sen. Simitian and Gov. Brown aren't taking "campaign contributions" from the cell phone industry to keep these penalties low.

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Posted by robit noops
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 29, 2012 at 11:16 am

I agree, this is crap. Why not move the fine for first offenders from $20 to $150? Add a 3 strikes clause that if you are caught 3 times your license is suspended for 3 months? I see people texting and driving every day so it is obvious that people who text don't take this serious. It is pretty pathetic.

I stopped texting people years ago, I got tired of being interrupted by "how r u?" and other stupid things. It is usually a waste of time.

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Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2012 at 11:17 am

Jack up those ticket prices so people HAVE to stop. It should be the price of a carpool ticket on the first violation! LET"S GET THIS DONE!
I know someone who got a talking ticket one day, and a texting ticket the very next day, by the same cop in the same area! My daughter got a talking ticket and now just uses speaker phone.
I, just like >Won't Work Joe, see people EVERY DAY on their phones...all ages. I honk at people and shake my phone at them. They probably laugh and keep talking.
But if we can see it so much and so easily, why don't the cops??!!

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Posted by Scholar
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 29, 2012 at 11:22 am

I suspect the CTIA, the big cell vendors, and others have lobbied hard to keep these fines low. It's interesting that they worked hard to put up cell towers along highways so drivers and others in vehicles get signals. It's like the U.S. booze industry.

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Posted by Huh?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2012 at 11:50 am

I see nothing wrong with texting at a red light, while stopped. However, I have noticed that so many drivers do this that when the light turns green, there is a pause before they begin driving, which has resulted in me missing a green light due to the lapse in time. I doubt any policeman would ticket anyone who is texting while stopped at a light. Keep those cell phones higher, so you can watch the light turn green at the same time!

To text while driving, there is no way a driver can watch the road simultaneously. Yes, driver's ought to be cited for texting while driving!

In the end, unfortunately, there aren't enough policemen to enforce the law.

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Posted by Garden Gnome
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 29, 2012 at 12:33 pm

How about a bill that requires a fine of $15,000 for every bill introduced by Joe Simitian that adds nothing to society, and another $100,000 for every bill introduced by Sen. Simitian that just increases fines for some activity he's already tried to ban anyway.

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Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 29, 2012 at 12:39 pm

@ Garden Gnome - ??? Not sure if you mean that the fine is so low that it means nothing or that the bill in general means nothing?
I think the bill is good, but the fines are WAY TOO LOW - the people caught should FEEL THE PAIN when paying that ticket!!
I JUST sat at a red light while this broad was yakking on the phone. I just shook my head and then blasted my music! HAHAHAHA!

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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 29, 2012 at 1:18 pm

I'm curious how a $30 fine becomes $199. What are these "other penalties and fees"? I thought the fine was supposed to be the penalty. If we are reimbursing the government an amount of $169 to collect a $30 check, I'd say something needs to be outsourced here.

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Posted by Noel
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 30, 2012 at 8:43 am

Texting is the new DUI and may start killing as many people. The penalties for texting while driving should be the same as for DUI. Texting while stopped at a light should not be illegal though it can be a major discourtesy.

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Posted by Simitian-Is-Clueless
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2012 at 8:45 am

The LAPD seems to have their own idea about how to deal with people who are using their cell phones when driving:

Web Link

Joe Simitian can take a bow, for he's a part of this injustice to this woman. Let's hope the cops involved end up losing their jobs, and spending some time behind bars. But somehow, I expect Simitian will not see his part in this.

He has failed to do adequate research using real data, to back up his claims about cellphones and driving.

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 30, 2012 at 12:21 pm

@ Clueless: Really? She was an idiot. The cops over-reacted to her being an idiot. The cell phone law had nothing to do with the f-bombing idiot and the over-reaction by the officers.

Nice try.

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Posted by Simitian-Is-Clueless
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2012 at 12:51 pm

> The cell phone law had nothing ..


No cell phone law .. no pull over. The cop's behavior was clearly an over-reaction to her language, but there is little in this situation that suggests she was endangering anyone.

This is another of Joe Simitian's nanny state mindset. This community, and state, is not well-served by this control freak.

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Posted by robit noops
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 30, 2012 at 4:30 pm

"Theres nothing wrong with texting while stopped at a light"- that is such a Palo Alto statement trying to push the envelope on every issue. If you are operating a vehicle, ie behind the steering wheel with the engine on, then you should be applying your full attention.

as for the lady who got stopped for talking on the cell, then smashed by the police, she shouldnt have mouthed off, and should have known you dont get out of the car during a traffic stop unless told by the officers. her actions probly made her appear to be a meth/crackhead. for the officers, they should have just tazered her a few times.

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Posted by lazlo
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 30, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Joe Simitian continues to regurgitate his same old bills. We got it Joe! Guess Joe was sitting around with nothing to do and came up this epiphany. What, if any, ideas does Joe have to increase employment in California, bring the California deficit down, fix the California education system, stop needless deficit spending, etc.,etc....
It would seem Joe is locked into his one track thinking that only serves Joe and getting himself on the 5 o'clock news. What a pity!

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Posted by GoodLaw
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 4, 2012 at 1:34 pm

When the fine is $20, don't forget all of the fees assessed on top of the $20 by the court that will bring it up to $140 or higher depending on where you were stopped.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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