State House passes bill to dramatically increase penalties for texting while driving

DENVER — The Colorado State House passed a bill Monday that will impose stricter penalties for people convicted of texting while driving.

The House voted, 56-8, on the measure, which increases a first offense from a $50 fine and one point on a driver’s record to a $300 fine and four points.

Drivers will only be cited if using a device led them to drive “in a careless and imprudent manner.” That would prevent citations for people texting at a red light as opposed to while driving.

The Senate has passed the bill, which now goes to Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The Colorado Department of Transportation said in 2015, there were 68 deaths and more than 15,000 crashes in the state that involved distracted drivers.