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Lawmaker seeks to increase fines for texting while driving

February 22, 2010 | 10:47 am

The prospect of getting hit with a $20 fine for sending text messages or using a cellphone while driving has not convinced some motorists to stop, so one state lawmaker is looking to up the ante.

Under legislation introduced by state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), driving and talking on the cellphone without a hands-free device will cost $50 on the first offense and $100 for subsequent violations, while the fine for using text message devices will increase to $100 on the first offense.

In addition, a violation of the two bans will add a "point" on the motorists’ driving records, potentially affecting how much they pay for insurance.

The senator noted that in the six months after the state barred motorists from using a cellphone without a hands-free device the CHP found there was a 20% reduction in traffic fatalities and collisions in California. "Compliance to date has been good, but there’s room for improvement," he said, adding that the proposed new law will provide "a more significant deterrent."

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento