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Governor signs bill banning cell phones for teen drivers

Sept 14th Update:
State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, the bill’s sponsor, said SB 33 is a “secondary offense law” — which means authorities can’t pull over teens for simply using the devices. But they can be cited under the law if they are pulled over for other violations, such as driving erratically.

Chief Teresa Becher of the CHP’s Golden Gate Division said the Highway Patrol is unleashing an educational campaign on the new law and unsafe use of cell phones and other electronic devices. While she said officers may not be flagging down young drivers by the scores, she said they will be watching for erratic behavior among teens.

“You can always tell somebody on a cell phone. … They’re going slower, then they’re going faster or they’re weaving around in their lane,” Becher said.

By Peter Hecht – Bee Capitol Bureau
Published 3:15 pm PDT Thursday, September 13, 2007 Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed legislation to ban 16- and 17-year-old drivers from using cell phones, lap top computers and other electronic devices while they are driving.
In signing Senate Bill 33 by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, the governor said he hoped to protect the lives of California’s youngest drivers and other motorists by keeping electronic gadgets out of the hands of “teen drivers…more easily distracted” on the road.

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The bill will become law July 1. The same day another law — prohibiting all Californians from using cell phones unless they are hands-free models — will also go into effect.

The new bill targeting drivers under 18 would impose fines of $20 for a first offense and $50 per additional offense.

“I just want to remind all of our teenagers. Even those this law doesn’t take place until next July, please don’t use cell phones while you’re driving right now,” Schwarzenegger said in the bill signing ceremony at Sequoia High School in Redwood City. “Start that right now. Don’t use cell phones. Don’t pagers. Don’t use laptops or anything that can distract you because you could lose your life.”

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