California lawmakers are taking distracted driving seriously by pushing Senate Bill SB 1030 toward law. The measure would add one driving-record point if a driver is found handling a mobile device while driving.
The bill has passed the Senate and is now headed to the California State Assembly. SB 1030 would then become law if signed by Governor Jerry Brown.
Stronger legislation is an important step toward addressing distracted driving to make roadways safer. Industry experts report that distracted driving is just as dangerous as impaired driving and is becoming increasingly common.
California currently prohibits holding an electronic device while driving and texting. Using a handheld wireless phone while driving has been against the law in California since July 1, 2008.
The Wireless Communications Device Law, in effect since 2009, specifically prohibits writing, sending or reading text messages while driving. Legislation was strengthened in 2017, making it illegal to hold a cellphone for any reason while driving, including maps, directions or music.
Violating the distracted driving law is considered a primary offense, allowing a law enforcement officer to stop a person suspected of breaking this law. Under the existing distracted driving law, a motorist who is caught driving while texting is subject to a fine of $20 plus penalties for a first offense. A second or subsequent offense can result in a fine of $50 plus penalties. The offense is currently considered an infraction but does not add any points to the motorist’s driving record.
The new law would result in the same penalties, plus it would add one point to a motorist’s driving record. The new law creates a stronger deterrent to texting and using social media while driving.
Lawmakers anticipate that the law will have an effect on driver habits similar to how seatbelt laws affected motorists’ behavior. When seatbelt violations became primary offenses and penalties increased, people obeyed the law more often.
The author of SB 1030, State Senator Josh Newman, has stated that current penalties are not harsh enough to deter the dangerous habit of texting while driving. He also said that thousands of people are seriously injured or killed in distracted driving accidents in California.
Some of the dangers of using a cellphone while driving, according to the Automobile Association of America (AAA), include:
California uses a point system to keep track of a motorist’s driving infractions. Having as few as four points within a 12-month period or six points in a 24-month period can result in a suspension of driving privileges.
Additionally, driving points can result in higher insurance premiums. Points are used as a gauge of how safely a motorist tends to drive, so additional points on a driver’s record are intended to penalize the driver and also to motivate him or her to drive more safely.
If a negligent party causes a collision by texting while driving and you are injured as a result, the Arnold Law Firm can help. Our car accident attorneys have extensive experience in pursuing claims against drivers who caused injury to others due to distracted driving or violation of other traffic laws. Since 1975, our skilled attorneys have pursued maximum compensation against negligent drivers.
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