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California May Raise Handheld Cell Phone Use Penalties

August 22, 2011

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Senate on Aug. 15 approved a bill that would substantially raise fines for handheld cell phone use or texting while driving in the state, the Sacramento Bee newspaper reported. 

The Assembly approved the bill in July. The legislation was due on the desk of Governor Jerry Brown on Monday, Aug. 22, for his consideration.

Under SB 28, the basic fine for a first offense would rise from $20 to $50. For subsequent offenses, the basic fine would jump from $50 to $100. But with state and local assessments added on, the real cost of a first offense would rise from approximately $208 to $328. For additional tickets, the cost would rise from approximately $328 to $528, and one point would be charged to the motorist’s driving record. The latter could have an impact of the offender’s insurance rates.

Citations for riding a bicycle while talking on a handheld cellphone would be $20 for a first offense and $50 for subsequent offenses. However, there would be no assessments added.

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