Governor Brown Vetoes New Texting Bill

Changes to California auto insurance legislation on distracted drivers have been vetoed by Governor Brown. State legislators were looking to increase the fines imposed upon drivers who are texting. Driving while distracted by a mobile device or otherwise is a growing cause for concern, as it becomes the cause of more and more accidents.

The increase in fines would be a whopping $10.00. First time offenders would be penalized $30.00 instead of $20.00, and offenses after the first would be penalized at $60.00 instead of $50.00. In addition, second offenses and those that follow would also impose a 1 point penalty to a driver’s license. However, the changes didn’t materialize.

California began taking a role against distracted drivers in 2008, when it banned the use of hand-held devices. Later in 2009, the California legislature banned texting while driving. According to statistics data from the California Highway Patrol, traffic accidents dropped a considerable amount. There was a 20% decrease in statewide traffic fatalities in the years following the implementation of such legislature.

Why the Veto?

The argument against the $10.00 increase is that the effects will be marginal at best. Increasing the penalty by ten dollars simply won’t be enough to deter drivers any more than current legislation already does.

Governor Brown states, “Upping the fines may satisfy the punitive instincts of some, but I severely doubt that it will further reduce violations.” So, it is a matter of diminishing returns. In Brown’s veto message, he states that the law currently fines $336.00 for texting while driving and $213.00 for usage of a mobile device.

Furthermore, the added punitive effect of adding a point to a driver’s license could adversely effect drivers. “Multiple point penalties can have insurance implications, as more than two points on a record eliminates the state-mandated insurance premium discount for good drivers. Losing that insurance discount can inflate premiums by 20 percent and make it harder to get the cheapest insurance in California.”

The sentiment seems to be that current deterrents in place are sufficient. The rate of traffic accidents has dropped, and quite a few tickets have been issued since then. Keep up with up to date information about California motor vehicle laws, as well as insurance requirements.

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