Texting While Driving Fees Just Increased in California

Have you been texting while driving? You might even think it’s okay to do it while you’re at a stoplight. If you do, we’re sorry to report that you’re wrong. Using the phone in any way while operating a vehicle, even at a stoplight, is illegal. Yes, even if you are looking up directions!

And now you should be even more careful. Not just because texting while driving is dangerous and you could seriously injure or kill someone (including yourself), but because the fees for texting while driving just went up by $10.

That means that the fines for a first offense is $30, and the second offense is $60. You might not think that it sounds like much, but that’s not the real cost—when you get done with court costs and penalties, the actual cost is $251 and $372, respectively. And Senate Bill 1310, which was just passed to increase the fines, originally called for the first offense to be $50, and the second $100! So it would have been even MORE expensive!

Yikes. Now that’s going to hurt. But not as much as the court fees and jail time that hitting a pedestrian would cost you, let alone the emotional anguish. It only takes a second, and you could change two lives forever: Yours and the life of that pedestrian crossing the street.

So why the increase? Because fatalities linked to handheld cellphone use fell by 47% in the two years after our state of California banned drivers from using them, according to a recent study. Reductions in the number of injuries were also reported by the California Office of Traffic Safety.

Just over a week ago, Senator Joe Simitian proposed Senate Bill 1310 that would increase the fines, and it passed with a 24-9 vote. It will mandate a point to go against a driver’s license for each offense following the first. Bicyclists are also included in this fine, but there will be no points added to their licenses. This bill also orders the DMV to test license applicants on the dangers associated with using handheld electronic devices while using a moving vehicle. Voice-operated texting of course is excluded from these fines, but it would allow officers to pull over drivers who they suspect are distracted-driving offenders, which they weren’t allowed to do before.

Current prohibitions:

  • Adult drivers (18 and older) banned from using cell phones unless they employ hands-free devices.
  • Drivers may not use wireless devices to “to write, send, or read a text-based communication” — as in text messaging.
  • Minors are prohibited from using wireless phones while driving — with or without hands-free accessories.
  • School bus operators and transit bus drivers prohibited from using cell phones while driving.

Click on the following links to view the California text messaging law | cell phone law | teen wireless device law.

Have any more questions about what you can and can’t do while driving? Or maybe you want another quote to see if you can find a better rate now that those offenses are off your record? Or even how this type of ticket will affect your insurance? Give us a call at BMR Insurance Agency. We love looking over insurance policies and giving people a free insurance review? What have you got to lose? Sounds like you potentially have something to gain. Call us now! (714) 838-1911

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