January 27, 2015

WTOP: Bill would pack more punch into D.C. distracted driving tickets

Distracted driving could cost more than just a  ticket if a new bill proposed in the D.C. City Council becomes law.

The bill, introduced by Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, would cost repeat offenders their license and car registrations for a time.

Right now, drivers run the risk of a $100 ticket for using a handheld phone or sending a text while driving.

“We continue to see a problem with distracted drivers on our roads,” Mendelson says.

He says tougher penalties will encourage drivers to pay attention to the road and not their smartphones.

The bill targets offenders caught not paying attention to the road multiple times within an 18-month period.

The first citation would remain at $100, but a second ticket would cost the driver $200. If drivers are caught a third time in a year and a half, the fine will be $400 and their license and car registration will be suspended from 60 to 180 days. Also, points can be assessed starting with the second distracted driving ticket, even if the offense didn’t result in a crash.

Mendelson says most people don’t approve of distracted drivers “for good reason — it’s a danger to all of us.”

The bill still needs to go through the public comment period.

“There may be some refinements to it.”

He does though, remain optimistic that the legislation will pass.