Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday for the second year in a row vetoed a bill that would have raised the fine for drivers who illegally use cellphones.

The bill, Senate Bill 1310 by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, would have increased the base fine from $20 for a first offense to $30.

“I believe the current fines and penalties of $213 and $336 for cellphone use and texting while driving are a powerful deterrent,” Brown said in his veto message, referring to the total fine that includes state and county fees that get added on in court. “I have found even a $50 ticket unpleasant enough.

“My point here is that the current fines are not trivial but do, in fact, get drivers’ attention. Upping the fines may satisfy the punitive instincts of some, but I severely doubt that it will further reduce violations.”

Simitian’s bill also would have raised the base fine for second and subsequent offenses from the current $50 to $60 and those additional violations would have cost drivers a point on their driving record.

Last year’s bill by Simitian would have raised the base fine on drivers to $50 for the first offense and $100 for subsequent violations.

As Brown pointed out, the current base fine of $20 actual skyrockets once various state and county fees are added on, and the fees vary among counties. For example, a first-time cellphone offense in Sonoma County now costs a total of $160 and subsequent violations $280. Under SB1310, the total fines would have been about $200 for a first offense and about $370 for subsequent violations.

The extra $10 base fine would have been used to create and fund a distracted driving program at the state Office of Traffic Safety.

The bill also would have extended the state’s cellphone driving law to bicyclists, with a total fine — no added state or county fees — of $20 for the first time and $50 for subsequent times, but no driving record points.


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  1. gary

    It’s the same as driving while impaired, drunk, under the influence of drugs, eating, putting on makeup, and anything that distracts the driver from PAYING ATTENTION!

    Double, no triple the fines, and take the cell phone and or smart( sic ) dumb phone away for repeat offenders!

    September 28th, 2012 5:46 pm

  2. Roadie

    Deterrent? The Governor must be joking. I still see an epidemic of phone use behind the wheel every single day.

    September 28th, 2012 8:48 pm

  3. Sandra

    I’m with commenter Roadie I see it more & more all the time. And heaven forbid you signal for someone to get off the phone they come unglued. I had a young wiotch chase me with her SUV in the parking lot because she thought I said something…thats my only guess. But she had the cell between her head n shoulder trying to back up, clearly not caring about anyone. I came from behind her & stopped cause I thought the way her head was tipped that she was having a medical problem. I stopped to look, realize oh on the phone continued singing and moved on. Next I hear squealing tires & by the time I start to cross driveway within the lot she’s coming right at me. I had witnesses but none could get plates cause she was going that fast through the lot. But she was headed at me on purpose. I barely backed enough for her to miss me too. I’ve had people move over, no blinker or anything, almost hit me, I put my hands up in disgust & they’ve either slammed the brakes cause their ticked at me now or they’ve slowed, moved to another lane only to move back over so they could follow me to my destination and give ‘me’ crap. Gov Brown I ask you do you want more reasons why people need a bigger reason to stop driving & using the cell cause I have a million more stories. I see people all the time get in their car in a lot, dial the cell then leave the lot! Why not sit there? It sounds to me like the Gov just believes in punishing the good guys & I bet he’d have a change of heart about many things he’s vetoed if they were to affect him directly.

    September 29th, 2012 12:02 am

  4. Krassie

    Maybe if Gov Brown gets hit by a distracted cell phone user, or maybe one on their second or third offense, he will see things differently. Money talks, obviously the fine isn’t worth hanging up for. And so many offenders are young drivers who shouldn’t be allowed behind the wheel with a cell phone, hands-free or otherwise. The state could sure use the money to educate these idiots.

    September 29th, 2012 12:54 am

  5. Kevin

    I’ve seen people reading newspapers, changing clothes, eating, and doing makeup while driving. Some people can carry a conversation, while some shouldn’t be allowed to change the radio station. Show me proof that this new law has saved a single life and not just another intrusive piece of legislature.

    September 29th, 2012 1:06 am

  6. mike abel

    same should be applied to bicyclists and pedestrians …the headphone rule on bikes should be enforced

    September 29th, 2012 1:13 am

  7. Art Perez

    Governor, you are an idiot! always have been, and whatever time you have left always will be.

    September 29th, 2012 6:20 am

  8. Kyle

    Hey, some people can bake a cake and some people cant. Some people can talk on a cell and drive and some people cant. I find the conversation to be the distraction and not so much the holding of an object to your ear. I drive a stick so I only drive one handed anyway. Its more dangerous to eat and drive. Feel good laws make me want to puke.

    September 29th, 2012 9:27 am

  9. Mike O.

    Governor Brown disappoints me. He knows people have been killed due to driving while texting.
    We are all at risk while on the road.
    Education, and very stiff $$$ fines are in order for cell phone use while driving.

    September 29th, 2012 9:28 am

  10. Rich Honsa

    The Current fines are a powerful deterrent ? I guess that’s why you can’t drive down a city block in a small town without seeing several people using their phones . Increase the fines after the law itself is being enforced (which it’s not ) Brown your an idiot !

    September 29th, 2012 1:43 pm

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