TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A Senate committee has advanced a measure to increase fines for talking or texting while driving.

The bill proposes a graduated penalty system for violations of the state’s handsfree cell phone law.

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A $200 fine would be imposed for the first offense, up from $100. A $400 fine would be assessed for a second offense happening within 10 years and a $600 penalty would be charged for subsequent offenses. Chronic offenders would be subject to 90-day license suspension.

Sen. Dick Codey, the bill sponsor, says studies show texting while driving is more dangerous than drunken driving. The West Orange Democrat says police in New Jersey write 10,000 tickets a month for cell phone law violations.

The measure moves to the full Senate. The Assembly has yet to consider it.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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