By Edwin Garcia
San Jose Mercury News (MCT)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Get ready to remove your fingers from that tiny keyboard while driving.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday signed into law a measure banning motorists from text messaging and e-mailing while operating a vehicle.
The law, written by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, takes effect Jan. 1.
"Building on legislation already helping save lives in California, I am happy to sign this bill because it further encourages safe and responsible driving," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "Banning electronic text messaging while driving will keep drivers' hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, making our roadways a safer place for all Californians."
Drivers caught using their phones to write, read or send messages will be hit with a $20 ticket the first time and $50 on each subsequent offenses.
Simitian is the author of the law that requires motorists to use hands-free devices if they choose to chat on the phone while driving. That law went into effect July 1.
Simitian intended to ban texting in the hands-free law but removed the provision when the measure encountered opposition.
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