ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Senate has approved tougher penalties for people who text while driving, especially if they kill or injure someone.

Sen. David Osmek says his bill “puts some teeth” into existing state law by raising fines for texting while driving, and by treating texting drivers who cause serious accidents more like drunken drivers, with felony penalties for fatal accidents. It also mandates that drivers education classes address distracted driving.

The Senate approved the bill 56-9 Monday and sent it to the House.

Osmek says his legislation is complementary to a separate bill that would require motorists to use hands-free devices for phoning while driving. Once the House and Senate give final approval to compromise language that was negotiated Monday, the hands-free bill goes to Gov. Tim Walz for his signature.

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