DENVER – Texting and driving could soon cost Coloradans a lot more money if a bill filed in the Legislature passes.
Senate Bill 27, sponsored by Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Arapahoe, and Sen. Louis Court, D-Denver, aims to increase the fine for a first offense of texting and driving tenfold to $500 and the fine for a second offense to $750.
The current penalties for texting and driving are as follows: first offenses carry a $50 fine and one point against the violator’s driver’s license. A second or subsequent offense carries a $100 fine and one point against the driver’s license.
But if SB 27 passes and becomes law, a first offense would carry a $500 fine and five points against the driver’s license, and a second or subsequent offense would carry a $750 fine and six points against the driver’s license.
The bill also strikes language from state statute that specifies that people aged 18 years and older cannot text and drive, or enter data on a phone while driving. The bill would change statute so such rules applied to everyone.
It is already against the law for anyone under age 18 to use a phone at all while driving.
In Colorado, a law enforcement officer has to see a driver using their phone to text or enter data in order to cite them.
Aside from the monetary penalties, the point penalty increases could also prove problematic for offenders.
Anyone under age 18 who accrues six or more points within a year can have their license suspended; the same will happen for anyone under 18 who gets seven or more points at any time while they are under 18.
For “minor drivers” aged 18-21, their license can be suspended if they get nine points within a year; 12 points within two years; or 14 points at any time between ages 18 and 21.
For all other drivers who do not work as chauffeurs, licenses can be suspended if a driver gets 12 or more points within a year or 18 or more points within two years.