Senate Oks bill raising penalties for texting while driving

DENVER (AP) -- Colorado's Senate has passed a bill to increase the penalty for texting while driving from $50 to $300.

Drivers also would get five points on their license instead of one point under current law.

The bill by Democratic Sen. Lois Court passed 34-1 Friday and heads to the House.

It comes after a woman who was driving drunk and texting on her phone hit and killed a Parker couple riding a motorcycle near Franktown last year. Athina Munoz pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and was sentenced in January to 20 years in prison.

Sen. Court thanked members of Coloradans Organized for Responsible Driving, created by motorcyclists after the deaths of Brian and Jacquie Lehner, for lobbying and testifying for the bill.

Current penalties

It is already against the law for anyone under age 18 to use a phone at all while driving.

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.

In Colorado, a law enforcement officer has to see a driver using their phone to text or enter data in order to cite them.

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