A local lawmaker is pushing to make getting caught texting while driving a much more expensive and penal offense.

Legislators have sent a bill from state Senator Joe Simitian of Palo Alto to Governor Jerry Brown. The measure would increase fines for motorists who use cell phones without a hands-free device or who text while driving. A subsequent violation of either law would add a point on a motorists’ driving record.

Under the bill, a first offense would cost $50 and subsequent offenses $100 (those fines are currently $20 and $50 respectively). With penalties and fees, the total cost for a first offense would increase from roughly $189 to approximately $309.

“While the numbers show that compliance is good and that California’s hands-free law is working, we can do better and save even more lives,” Simitian said in a statement after the bill passed the legislature.

The measure would also apply the rules to bicyclists, who were omitted from the original law. They would face lower penalties – $20 for a first offense and $50 thereafter.



Photo Credit: Alton, via Wikimedia Commons