updated 9/24/2008 9:33:35 PM ET 2008-09-25T01:33:35

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law making it illegal to read or send text messages while driving in California.

The bill imposes a $20 fine for a first offense and $50 for repeat offenders using any electronic devices to read or send messages, starting next year.

Schwarzenegger said the law he signed Wednesday encourages drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.

California motorists using cell phones have been required to use hands-free devices since July, and drivers under age 18 can't use any electronic devices.

Seven other states and the District of Columbia ban text-messaging or the use of hand-held phones while driving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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