Hefty Fines For Drivers Who Violate Hands-Free Cellphone Law

SAN JOSE (KCBS) – Drivers caught violating California’s hands-free cellphone law may soon face hefty penalties.

In an effort to persuade drivers not to break the law, a bill passed by the state legislature, and awaiting the governor’s signature, would raise the penalty from $20 to $309 for a first offense.

A second offense would add a point to your driving record.

KCBS’ Matt Bigler:

Despite California’s ban on hand-held cellphone use while driving, it’s estimated that 40 percent of motorists in the state still use the devices to talk or text.

The California Highway Patrol has stepped up enforcement of the hands-free law, issuing 60,000 tickets statewide in April.

Palo Alto State Senator Joe Simitian, who authored the new legislation, said the CHP’s recent action should be enough to convince the governor to sign the bill.

“They see the damage that distracted driving does out there on the highway. I’m hoping that they’ll be talking to the governor and sharing with him their experience out there on California highways.”

The bill also would make using a cellphone while cycling illegal, although the penalty would be far lower.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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