California May Raise Fines For Illegal Cellphone Use While Driving

SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) — The fine for illegally using a cellphone while driving in California would increase from $20 to $30 under a bill approved by the state Senate, although the actual cost would climb to at least $199 for first offenders once court fees are collected.

Sen. Joe Simitian, a Democrat from Palo Alto, said California’s existing ban on drivers’ use of handheld devices would be more effective with a higher penalty. The money would go to driver education programs.

With court and other fees, a first offense currently costs at least $159. Gov. Jerry Brown last year vetoed Simitian’s bill to raise the base fine to $50, saying penalties in California’s four-year-old law should be enough to deter illegal cellphone use.

SB1310 was sent to the Assembly on a 24-9 vote Monday.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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