In case you missed it, a provision in the omnibus transportation finance bill signed into law last week by Gov. Mark Dayton increases the fines for drivers who are caught texting for the second time.
The fine for the first offense is $50, but that has risen to $225 for subsequent violations. With court costs, the fine could exceed $350, said Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis.
"We hope that will be deterrent to a very dangerous practice," said Hornstein, who co-authored the provision with Sen. Jim Carlson, DFL-Eagan.
As a reminder, the law makes reading, composing or sending emails or text messages illegal. It's also against the law to access the Internet while a vehicle is in motion or part of traffic, including stopped at a traffic light.
Drivers with a permit or provisional driver's license are not allowed to be on the phone while driving, except to call 911 for an emergency.
Last year, 3,200 drivers were issued citations for violating the state's texting and driving law, according to state records.
In April, Minnesota law enforcement officials cited 909 drivers in a six-day period in a campaign conducted by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety.
Each year in Minnesota, distracted or inattentive driving is a factor in one in four crashes, resulting in at least 70 deaths and 350 serious injuries, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Office of Traffic Safety.