Bill would increase fines for using cellphones while driving

SACRAMENTO — State lawmakers sent two road-related proposals to the governor Tuesday, one that would hike fines for Californians who use a cellphone while driving and another that would exempt hybrid drivers from toll charges in car-pool lanes.

The cellphone bill, SB 1310 by state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), would increase the current fine for driving while using a hands-on phone or text messaging from $20 to $30 for a first offense, and from $50 to $60 for a subsequent offense.

Lawmakers also gave final approval to a bill that would exempt drivers who own low-emission and hybrid vehicles from charges when they use “high-occupancy toll,” or HOT, lanes. Currently, drivers must pay to use those lanes if they are not carrying passengers.

Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills), author of AB 2405, said he hopes the legislation will serve as an incentive for Californians to buy “clean cars” and help offset the costs of pricey hybrids.


Also headed to Gov. Jerry Brown are proposals that would:

• Make it easier for survivors of police officers and firefighters to collect death benefits by doubling the amount of time they have to file certain claims. Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) introduced AB 2451.

•Require private, for-profit colleges to make certain disclosures to students, including accreditation status and post-graduation employment rates. AB 2296 is by Assemblyman Marty Block (D-San Diego).

•Limit the legal liability of commercial space operators for death or injuries resulting from flights, provided that passengers have been informed of the risks and given written consent. Assemblyman Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) introduced AB 2243.