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For Safety Or Revenue? Drivers Wary Of Higher Penalties For Cell Phone Use

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Is a statewide crackdown on cell phone use while driving more about safety or revenue?

KNX 1070’s John Brooks reports some Angelenos are wary of a bill Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign that would increase penalties for illegal cell phone use in California.

The current fine of $190 for a first-time ticket would jump to around $310 if Brown endorses the measure. Repeat offenders would face a $500 fine along with tacking a point on the driver’s record.

State officials warn an estimated 40 percent of all drivers don’t use headsets or speakerphones while using their cell phone behind the wheel.

But despite the safety warnings, many drivers are suspicious of the motivation behind the proposed increase at a time when the state faces a systemic fiscal crisis.

One man suggested says the move is less about safety and more about bringing in money to the government.

“It doesn’t matter if you have a hands-free [phone] or a headset,” he said. “That extra hand is then on your drink or on your food rather than on your phone, it’s the same.”

In addition to penalizing motorists, the bill on the governor’s desk would also make it illegal to ride a bike while holding a phone to your ear.

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