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

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.

  • PeteM

    Why not make it a $1,000 fine for the first offence and go up from there? I totally agree that these morons who use their cell phones whilst driving should be punished and hit their pockets HARD!

    • Xen

      It’s just pure stupidity to be yakking on a cell phone while driving. When will these idiots learn? Even more stupid are those idiots who are texting while driving.

    • LAPD are Thieves

      Because with that authority comes abuses:

      • Astonished

        Since the majority of any monies generated goes to the state, how does that make LAPD thieves?

        As for uping the fine. I’m all for it. I’m tired of ducking idiots who think the cars drive themselves while they yak on the cell!

  • earl

    It may well be more about money but I’ve seen a few accidents and lots of near misses while people were on their phones. I see lots of people texting while driving everyday. I’ve had to yell at a few to pay attention.

    • GregR

      what’s a near miss? I think you mean near hit or near collision. How could you have a near miss? Either you missed or you didn’t.

      • Bentley


      • Marcus

        Go join George Carlin or whoever used to ask this stupid question. It’s perfectly correct English to say “near miss”. They didn’t collide, so it was a miss. However, they were close to colliding. That makes it a near miss.

        It is not the same as saying “nearly missed” or “nearly collided”, as nearly is an adverb (modifying “missed” or “collided”) and near is an adjective (modifying “miss”).

  • John Holmes

    This is a step in the right direction. But the first offense should be a $1000 ticket and 1 point on your driving record. With a costly fine most drivers would not risk texting or talking on the phone and their insurance would go up with a point on driving record. This would save many lives and cut down on many accidents.


    Sure, I say go for boosting the fine, but make a provision in the law that all funds collected from these fine should go straight into an account for balancing the Califonria budget and that they cannot be used for anything else!

  • Emmet

    I think these cell phone violators are just trying to shift the focus away from themselves by claiming that this new bill is more about money than safety, because they are too damn stupid to realize how many accidents they are responsible for. I agree with PeteM, the fine should start @ $ 1,000 and go up from there

  • Barbara

    FINE THEM ! ! ! just yesterday i saw a lady holding up traffic, talking on the phone while she drove around Camarillo. So annoying ! !

  • Nicolas Cruz

    Yes “Moombeam” is finally on tract! Please do not listen to Tony V in SAC yesterday he looking to make you a burrito! Yes this increase fees! Yes to Helmet on the Ski slopes! Now you and other state employees need a 25% reduction in pay and benefits! CRUZ-N FOR A BETTER AMERICA

  • c-man

    And ENGLISH only in the workplace and immigration checks. Let’s straighten America out.

    • GregR

      If you’re a non-English speaker, how can you write in English? I believe the article was about increasing fines for users of cell phones while driving.

      • Astonished

        See, he writes in English, speaks in Mexican, and can’t read. But we are the honkys! Go figure.

    • Shiggity

      You’re black not mexican. Nice try..

    • Proud racist hating American

      why would you fight for a culture and country that you HATE!

      maybe you should wear the “effing” uniforms in Mexico, since that’s where you belong you racist bigot!

    • Astonished


  • For Safety Or Revenue? Drivers Wary Of Higher Penalties For Cell Phone Use | Los Angeles for Me

    […] Despite safety warnings, many drivers are suspicious of the motivation behind the proposed increase at a time when the state faces a systemic fiscal crisis. More from:… […]

  • oldpoliscimajor

    Well, if you ride a motorcycle, you get to see drivers texting and / or talking on at least one, and sometimes TWO phones simultaneously. Those drivers veer out of their lanes, change lanes unexopectedly, and tailgate much of the time, trying to use the leading car as a peripheral-vision guide.

    It’s frightening, dangerous, and stupid.

    What’s so urgent that you cannot pull over to talk or text? How did we all get along when the phone was at home or at the office? Weren’t we able to drive without gadgets taking our attention away from operating a piece of heavy equipment at high speed?

    I say make the first fine $1,000, and the second offense grounds for a 1-year suspension. All the cell-phone-attention deficit studies show conclusively that talking or texting makes you less able than someone who is legally drunk!

    • LAPD are Thieves

      The roads are for driving ONLY

      but you have to realize that with the power to enforce the law comes many abuses:

      • Bentley

        Read your CA driving manual: the road is for cars, motorcycles, trucks, diesels, and bikes, both private and commercial.

      • LAPD are Thieves

        Exactly, Bently -DRIVING

  • Jo Manny

    lol, of course its about the revenue, its ALWAYS about the money!

    • Bentley

      Maybe, but drivers who choose to use handheld are feeding into that money-frenzy.

  • Barry Fothergill

    Let’s not forget about the infamous amount that walk through a crosswalk stairing down at there phone while texting.They don’t even have a clue about the traffic!

    • Barry Fothergill

      typo staring.

    • Bentley

      I agree. I believe that walkers are next to be fined. They can create bad traffic conditions by such behavior.

  • Will

    I say take their driving privileges away, too.

  • alan hart

    When this stupid and intrusive law first went into effect, the fine was $10.00 and nobody cared.. But, as usual, the state sees this as a revenue grab and now they want $310 as a fine while they infringe on our freedom of speech.

    • Karen

      Shut the F up Alan and DRIVE. I don’t want you chatting on the phone.
      WHY? Because you can’t drive and talk at the same time, you weave in and out of traffic and cause the rest of us to drive 20 miles an hour because you’re not paying attention. Shut the F up and Drive Alan.

    • LAPD are Thieves

      Get a hands free dumb ass

    • GregR

      It’s not an infringement of your freedom of speech. But if drivers feel their right to speak freely is being infringed upon, why not just purchase a hands-free device and use it? That way they won’t have to pay the $310 fine and they can talk as much as they like.

      • Tyrone

        And you probably think that Driving is right also……
        HANG UP THE PHONE!!!!!!

    • Astonished

      Just because you have freedom of speech doesn’t absolve you of the exercising that freedom with responsibility. Since when does your freedom of speech have the right to endanger others!

  • Truth

    Does this law also apply to Sheriffs? I ask because I live in Maywood ( I know :( ) and I always see the sheriffs talking on their phones without hand free sets?

    • ES

      The law does not apply to law enforcement officials as they are immune.

    • GregR

      Of course it doesn’t. They have the gun and the badge. Just like they don’t have to stop at STOP signs if they don’t feel like it.

  • GregR

    Raising the fine is not going to deter the drivers who disregard the law in the first place. If a driver is caught using their cellphone without a “hands-free” device, the cellphone should be confiscated on the spot. That would be a more appropriate penalty. I know the State is hurting for money, but the fine amounts are getting ridiculous for everything. I accidentally got a red light camera ticket. It’s about $500 for just triggering the camera. There was no accident, no nothing. A co-worker was given a “jaywalking” ticket the other day because she didn’t enter the crosswalk directly from the sidewalk between the two lines. $200 for that major violation.

    • Astonished

      Why not. Police impound vehicles for various offenses all the time. Prehaps making the offender go to the police station and pay a fee to retrieve the phone would be just enough inconvienience to be a deterent.

      Especially if they still have to pay the fine associated with the citation.

    • Karen

      Dude – the purpose of fines is to HURT. That $500 must have put a big hole in your savings account. You remembered it didn’t you and how many red lights have you driven through since?

      Don’t go through a red light and you don’t have to worry about getting a ticket.

      Your friend should have entered the crosswalk in the right place. We can’t have everyone doing whatever they want because it causes other people issues.

      Your friend could have been hit by a car for being so stupid. Paying $200 for a dumb move motivates her not to do it again. HOPEFULLY.

  • LAPD are Thieves

    How about cops bust the criminals breaking into cars and stealing things, drug dealers, and themselves instead of being hall monitors?

    • Astonished

      Your kidding, right? I thought this old line went out in the 70’s. Please don’t tell me you use that line whenever your getting a ticket!

  • dan

    There are idiots both men and women still driving and talking on the cell phone….Are you people S T U P I D or stupid , ignornat and idiots…

  • geeM


  • TT

    if the fines are too high – people wont be able to afford to pay them – which puts us right back to the same ridiculous fines as with the red light cameras –
    If you want to charge high fees, might i suggest that all the proceeds go to the investment of our childrens future and give the money from these ridiculuosly high tickets – to the schools…..Im not saying that you shouldnt be ticketed for it – you absolutely should be penalized for breaking the law, but theres a balalnce in everything, and let end result be for something good….

  • No Dogs Either

    What about drivers who have there dogs on their laps while driving? I guess we don’t want to upset PETA and the rights of animals. CA continues on a downward slide

    • Astonished

      Actually, I think that is already against the law. Has been for some time now.

  • Karen

    I think the fine should be $1,000. I am so tired of driving behind chatty kathys.

    The ONLY way to get these idiots to stop is FINE THEM A LOT OF MONEY.

    I don’t care about safety or revenue. I want them to shut the F up and drive. You’re wasting our time and time is money.

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