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Jerry Brown vetoes higher fines for driving while using cellphones

September 7, 2011 | 11:55 am

A motorist talks on his cell phone while waiting for the signal to change

Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday rejected a proposal that would have taken a bigger bite from the wallets of drivers using hand-held cellphone and sending text messages.

Repeat offenders could have ended up paying more than $500 when court fees and penalties are added in, under legislation sponsored by Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto).

Simitian proposed that the base fine for the first offense increase from $20 to $50 because of concern that not enough motorists are complying with the 3-year-old hands-free requirement for cellphone uses.

Simitian called the veto "a lost opportunity to save more lives," adding "I’m disappointed but the governor gets the last word."

Read more about the veto at The Times' PolitiCal blog.

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-- Patric McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: A motorist talks on his cell phone while waiting for the signal to change at the intersection of Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevards in Beverly Hills on Jan. 29, 2010. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

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