The tally is in from April’s statewide Distracted Driving Awareness Month crackdown, and police throughout California wrote more than 57,000 tickets to drivers for using a hand-held cellphone or texting, according to the state Office of Traffic Safety.
Of those, the CHP issued about 30,000 statewide, including about 5,900 in the Bay Area. The remaining 27,000 or so tickets were issued by 265 local police agencies that participated in the crackdown.
For Sonoma County, CHP officers gave out 300 tickets for illegal phone use — 249 for cellphones and 51 for texting — plus 187 for other driving distractions. Officer Jon Sloat, the local spokesman, said the office has been averaging about 100 cellphone tickets a month during normal enforcement.
Santa Rosa police said it issued 497 tickets for cellphones and 22 for texting. (This is an update from SRPD; earlier, OTS had listed SRPD’s total number at about 100.)
OTS reported these stats for Sonoma County agencies that participated:
–Petaluma, 180 for cellphones, 26 texting and 6 other.
–Rohnert Park, 20 cellphones, 4 texting.
–Sebastopol, 22 cellphone.
–Sonoma State University, 22 cellphone.
The minimum first-time fine for illegal cellphone use in California is $159 — it varies by county — once you add up all of the extra fees approved by the Legislature. It’s $160 in Sonoma County. The minimum for subsequent violations is $279, or $280 in Sonoma County.
Let’s assume all 57,000 tickets were first-time offenses. 57,000 x $159 = $9,063,000.
Where does that money go? Most of it goes to the state for specific programs, including courthouse construction, DNA, emergency medical services, courthouse security, as well as the state’s general fund. A small chunk goes to the county. Of the $20 base fine for a first offense: If you’re ticketed by the CHP, the $20 goes to the county. If you’re ticketed by a city police department, $17 goes to that city and $3 to the county. It would take a lot more tickets to cover governments’ deficits.
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