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Cellphone fines would rise under pending California bill

A driver holds a cellphone in this undated file photo.
May 15, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The fine for illegally using a cellphone while driving could go up $20 to $30 dollars under a new bill approved by the California state Senate.

The money would go to driver education programs. The actual cost would climb to at least $199 for first offenders once court fees are collected. A first offense is currently $159.

The fine for subsequent offenses would increase $50 to $60, but the real cost would be $371 for each additional offense because it would add a point on the driver's record, causing other fees. The bill would also fine bicyclists $20 for texting or talking on a handheld phone.

The bill's author, Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) said surveys have shown the current law is popular with motorists and has reduced fatalities and accidents.

Some lawmakers objected to the new measures, saying law enforcement officers should focus on looking for drivers who are distracted or driving erratically, rather than looking for handheld cellphones.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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