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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cell Phone Use While Driving: A Big Hang-up

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Vigilant enforcement by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Dept. has made it risky for drivers in East County who text on their cell phones or talk without a hands-free device.

In the past year, Santee-based sheriff’s deputies issued 378 tickets for driving while texting or using a cell phone without a hands-free or wireless listening device or speaker phone function.  That’s roughly one ticket per day.

First-time offenders end up paying approximately $148. And the cost may be going up. A bill recently approved by the state Legislature, and now sitting on the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown, would increase the penalty for a first offense to about $310.

A statewide ban on driving while talking on a cell phone was enacted in mid-2008; the prohibition on texting went into effect a year later.

Current prohibitions:
  • Adult drivers (18 and older) banned from using cell phones unless they employ hands-free devices .
  • Drivers may not use wireless devices to “write, send, or read a text-based communication” -  as in text messaging.
  • Minors are prohibited from using wireless phones while driving - with or without hands-free accessories.

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