In Pennsylvania, if the House approves a bill, holding your cell phone while driving could cost you $150

In Featured News by Wireless Estimator

Pennsylvania’s state Senate wants to broaden a ban on texting while driving and approved legislation last week that would increase the penalties for motorists who have a cell phone in their hand for almost any purpose while driving.

The bill, approved 37-11, goes to the state House of Representatives.

In 2012, Pennsylvania banned texting while driving, an offense punishable by a $50 fine. Under the new legislation, motorists cannot handle their cell phones to make a call or almost any other function while driving. That includes while sitting in traffic or at a stoplight, and most likely while pulled over to the side of the road by police.

However, it allows people to push a single button to start or end a phone conversation on a phone that is within easy reach and to use it for navigation or listening to music. Easy reach is defined by having your seat belt on while obtaining the wireless device.

A first offense is punishable by a $150 fine. The bill carries exceptions for emergency responders and for people calling 911.

For a second conviction within a 60-month period of time,  a fine of not more than $250 can be levied. For slow learners who get a third or subsequent conviction within a 60-month period, the fine increases to $500

Pennsylvania defines a wireless device as a wireless phone, personal digital assistant, smartphone, portable or mobile computer, or similar devices that can be used for texting, instant messaging, emailing or browsing the Internet.

Offenders who cause serious accidents could get more time in prison.

In cases where the offender is convicted of homicide by vehicle, a court can add a sentence of up to five years. In cases where the offender is convicted of aggravated assault by vehicle, a court can add a sentence of up to two years.

The bill, available here, gives drivers a grace period of a year in which they would only receive a written warning for violating it.