AUSTIN, TX --- Texas State Rep. Chente Quintanilla (D-El Paso) has proposed a bill that would permit higher fines to be imposed on drivers who commit traffic offenses while engaged in such inattentive behavior as talking on a cell phone or shaving behind the wheel.

The bill (HB 738) does not, as previously reported in the Fleet Safety e-newsletter and on Fleet-Central, propose an outright ban on such behavior as eating or talking on a cell phone while driving.

What the bill does propose is that inattentive drivers can be fined at least twice the minimum fine for a traffic offense -- but not more than twice the maximum fine -- if the driver was engaged in the following at the time of the traffic violation: reading, writing, personal grooming, consuming food or a beverage, interacting with a pet, interacting with a passenger, using a personal communications device, or engaging in any other activity that prevents the safe operation of the vehicle.

"This bill allows a police officer and judge to enhance the fine for any violation, such as passing in a school zone while the driver is talking on a cell phone or shaving," explained Robert Grijalva, chief of staff for Rep. Quintanilla. "Many people can do these things without violating traffic laws. For those who cannot drive safely and attend to other things besides the road, the officer has the option of enhancing the fine and the judge has the option of increasing the amount the violator has to pay. This bill does not ban any activity that you may wish to perform while driving. But if you cannot drive safely without violating the rules of the road, then you may face a double fine."