California is currently one of 34 states (and the District of Columbia) that has a complete ban on texting while driving for all drivers, but the state government recently took steps to strengthen the ban by increasing the penalties incurred by violators.
Earlier this week, the California Legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 28, which would raise current fines and penalties associated drivers who use a handheld device to talk or text while driving. SB 28 was authored by Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto).
The new legislation would increase the fine of using a handheld device while driving from $189 to $309 and would also make a second offense a moving violation that would appear on the violator’s driving record.
Changing infractions to moving violations could – and most likely would – impact auto insurance rates for violators. To be more precise, this change could add up to $100 a year or more to violators’ California auto insurance rates, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
The bill is now in Governor Jerry Brown’s hands. According to the Mercury News, supporters believe that the Gov. Brown will sign it into law.
SB 28 would also ban the use of handheld phones by bicyclists. Under the new legislation, bicyclists would be subject to the same distracted driving laws but would incur lower fine amounts if found in violation.
Currently, 41 states (plus the District of Columbia) have either a partial or complete ban in place against texting while driving, which leaves nine states that do not ban the practice of texting while driving at all.