HARTFORD, CT (AP / CBSNewYork) – A bill imposing tougher penalties for texting or using a hand-held mobile phone while driving is progressing through the Connecticut General Assembly.

WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau: Repeat Violators Could Face A $500 Fine

The legislature’s Judiciary Committee voted 23-20 on Thursday approved the measure, which allows police officers to seize a repeat offender’s driver’s license for 24 hours, as they can in alcohol-related cases.

New Canaan Rep. John Hetherington wanted to require an officer to seize the license, but that part of the bill was amended to give police the discretion. Some lawmakers said the original requirement gave police too much power.

Still, he backs the measure, telling WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau, “I’m hopefull that we’ll see it pass because… we’ve got to get people’s attention on this and its not happening.”

The bill, which also increases the penalty for repeat violators of the ban from $150 to $500, moves to the House of Representatives.

First-time violators would still face a $100 fine.

Connecticut first banned the use of hand-held cell phones while driving in 2005.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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