New Mexico lawmaker looks to increase fines for texting while driving

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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – State lawmakers could make a ticket for texting while driving a lot more expensive. Right now, it’s just $25.

Sen. Steven Neville is looking to up the fine four-fold. He says $25 just isn’t enough.

“We didn’t feel that that was much incentive for people to be concerned about texting or even for law enforcement to want to enforce it,” Sen. Neville said.

Sen. Neville said he was inspired to sponsor the bill after his friend was killed in a crash last year — hit by a distracted driver.

Cities like Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces already have hefty fines for texting and driving. Sen. Neville’s law would make texting and driving a minimum $100 fine, statewide for the first offense.

KRQE News 13 asked State Police Chief Steve Kassetas his thoughts on the bill.

“Twenty-five dollars is low. I definitely think upping it to $100 for the first offense, I think people will think twice about doing it,” Chief Kassetas said.

Chief Kassetas said texting and driving is a big problem, but added that careless driving in general is an issue, too.

Sure enough, the bill also ups the penalty for careless and reckless driving. Those crimes would also become $100 for a first offense.

Albuquerque’s fine already starts at $100 for a first offense. Cities like it and Santa Fe that already have bans on texting while driving and have higher fines than the state’s would keep charging those higher fines.

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