Assembly: Hike Calif. cell phone fine

The California Assembly wants to present Gov. Jerry Brown with a new plan to more than double fines for electronic distracted driving. The Assembly approved a bill from Assemblyman Jim Frazier (pictured) that seeks to hike the current fine for handheld cell phone use or texting from $20 to $50. Subsequent fines would be $100 with a point vs. the driver's license. Brown vetoed almost identical legislation in 2011. The sponsor, state Sen. Joe Simitian, tried again in 2012 -- with lesser fines -- but that measure too was axed by Brown. Brown wrote in his 2011 veto message: “For people of … [Read more...]

Calif. governor again rejects fine hikes

Gov. Jerry Brown has again vetoed a plan to increase California's distracted driving penalties. Looks like the plan never had a chance with the governor: "I have found even a $50 ticket unpleasant enough," Brown, left, said in his veto message of Sept. 28. Brown called current California fines "a powerful deterrent," adding: "I severely doubt that it will further reduce violations." Senate Bill 1310 sponsor Sen. Joe Simitian also was the author of the 2011 plan to double electronic distracted driving fines. That bill, too, was vetoed by Brown as a burden on "people of ordinary … [Read more...]

Hands-free texting OK’d in California

Californians soon will be free to use hands-free technology to text message while driving, under a measure signed into law Friday. The bill's sponsor called passage "a huge victory for commuters." Assemblyman Jeff Miller, R-Corona, pushed through the relatively low profile AB 1536. He cited the burden of current distracted driving limits on business people who spend so much time in vehicles: "I can relate to the frustration of many Californians who were unable to communicate with friends, family and business partners while driving because it is currently against the law to operate text … [Read more...]

SB 28 vetoed in California

California's governor has vetoed a plan to double fines for distracted driving violations, saying he was not interested in "ratcheting up the penalties as prescribed by this bill." The legislation was Senate Bill 28, approved by the state House and Senate, and sent to Gov. Jerry Brown on Aug. 15. The bill's author, Sen. Joe Simitian, said the veto resulted in "a lost opportunity to save more lives." Brown wrote in his veto message: "For people of ordinary means, current fines and penalty assessments should be sufficient deterrent." Under the Simitian plan, fines for using handheld cell … [Read more...]

Calif. gov gets bill doubling fines

The state Senate and House have approved Sen. Joe Simitian’s SB 28, a reprise of his 2010 plan to more than double fines for distracted driving violations. The 2011 bill was sent to Gov. Jerry Brown on Aug. 15. Update of Sept. 7: The governor vetoed SB 28, saying its fines were too punitive for most people. Under the Simitian plan, fines for using handheld cell phones or text messaging while driving would have increased to $50 (first offense) and $100. In addition, a point is charged against the driver's license on second and subsequent offenses. A first offense would cost violators about … [Read more...]