Distracted driving laws in California have effectively created more aware drivers and safer roads over the past two years. Now, State Senator and father of California’s distracted driving laws, Joe Simitian is pushing for harsher punishments. Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the second plan in two years that would increase distracted driving fines in California. As of Sept 28 the Senate is considering a veto of Gov. Brown’s rejection.
The current text messaging ban for all drivers prohibits use of electronic devices to “write, send or read a text-based communication.” The fines are $20 for the first offense and $50 for all subsequent convictions, however once court costs are factored it the fines amount to $76 and $190 respectively. Last year Gov. Brown vetoed a bill that would have doubled distracted driving fines. This year’s bill proposition (Senate Bill 1310) upon initial review only increased the fines by $10, making the citations $30 for a first offense and $60 for subsequent offenses; however, further court costs and and penalties caused the total fees to raise to $251 and $372, varying from county to county. SB 1310 would also allow “distracted cycling” citations of $20 and $50. “Upping the (distracted driving) fines may satisfy the punitive instincts of some, but I severely doubt that it will further reduce violations,” Brown said. “I believe the current fines and penalties … for cell phone and texting while driving are a powerful deterrent.” An experienced and knowledgeable accident attorney in California knows and can explain distracted driving laws in full detail to accident victims.
The heightened distracted driving fines under measure SB1310 were intended to establish and fund a distracted driving education program in the California Office of Traffic Safety. Senator Joe Simitian said the increased citation fees would “… help fund a program to spread the word among those drivers that no text or phone call is worth the cost of a life.” Fatalities and injuries linked to handheld cell phone usage have decreased by 47%, and SB 1310 proponents were pushing for this bill to pass to help save even more lives. Senator Simitian says that he “hopes to find common ground with the governor this year.”
An unintended consequence of California’s distracted driving laws is an increase in driver texting when communication is necessary; texting in your lap can be disguised more easily than talking with the cell phone pushed up against your ear. The Southern California Auto Club stated that the amount of texting while driving has doubled in Southern California since the ban went into effect.
Current distracted driving laws in California are as follows:
• Handheld ban for all drivers
• Ban on texting for all drivers
• 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.
If you are involved in an accident that was caused by the distracted driving of another driver, you are entitled to compensation. An experienced personal injury lawyer in California will seek the maximum compensation for you or your loved one’s full recovery.