Charleston Considers Texting and Driving Ban

texting and driving ban

texting and drivingOne of SC’s Largest Cities Reviewing Texting and Driving Ban

The City of Charleston could see a ban on texting and driving soon.

The Charleston City Council’s Wednesday agenda noted that an ordinance will be presented that could make it illegal for drivers to text and drive, or use their smart phones for certain purposes while behind the wheel.

“I think it’s very important and hope that we can get it passed. Texting while driving is very dangerous,” said Mayor Joe Riley.

The ordinance specifies that drivers not only cannot text and drive, they cannot read text messages or emails, write emails, use digital assistants, or type on a computer while driving. If an officer pulls someone over on reasonable suspicion of texting and driving, the ordinance states that the officer would be able to subpoena cell phone records for the court hearing.

However, the ordinance does not apply to drivers who use their phones while they are stopped or parked, or while they use factory-installed GPS or wireless devices that transmit or receive data as part of a digital dispatch system. Drivers can also use voice-operated technology. The amendment would also not apply to law enforcement officers, firefighters, ambulance drivers, or others who use such mobile devices to perform official duties.

The texting and driving ban would fine those caught using mobile devices $100. If the ban passes, it would go into effect in October 2013.

Despite South Carolina’s growing enthusiasm for texting and driving bans, Clemson Police Chief Jimmy Dixon remains skeptical. “It’s not ever going to be easy to enforce. We’re not going to stop it,” he said. “It’s a constant (educational) process.”

South Carolina’s Texting and Driving Bans Becoming More Popular

A similar texting and driving ban passed the Mt. Pleasant Town Council. On Tuesday, August 13th, a preliminary vote was 6-3 in favor of the ban, but it is not official yet. The official vote will be at the town council meeting on September 10th.

In early July, the Hilton Head Island Town Council passed a texting and driving ban in a 4-to-1 vote.

The new texting and driving ban in Hilton Head says that any motorist caught reading or composing electronic messages, from Facebook to texts, within the town limits will face misdemeanor fines. The first offense is $100, the second is $200, and the third is $300. However, the measure does specifically say that drivers can still use MP3 players, GPS navigation, and hands-free options on their phones.

Assistant town manager Greg DeLoach said, “The challenge is that you can educate a lot of residents on the island, but we have 2 million visitors a year.” He said he would prefer a state-wide texting and driving ban, to make the rules clearer to all drivers.

In March, the South Carolina legislature re-introduced a texting and driving bill, sponsored by Rep. Don Bowen of Anderson County, who has been pushing such legislation for two years. In 2012, the bill did not pass, but Bowen says he is more confident the bill will pass this time around.

“We’re hoping by putting the teeth back into the bill, and the awareness has become so much greater than it has in the past, that this time we won’t have the opposition that we’ve had to it,” said Bowen.

“The problem is that it’s going to require an officer that pulls you over to take your phone, and go through your phone to figure out what you were doing,” said Rep. Todd Rutherford of Richland County. “Because dialing on a cell phone and texting on a cell phone, how is the officer going to know the difference?”

The Strom Law Firm Prosecutes Texting and Driving

If you have been injured by a distracted driver, including one who was texting and driving, the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. Our South Carolina car accident lawyers are prepared to fight for compensation in the courtroom and will defend your right to compensation for your past and future medical bills, lost wages and future earnings, your pain and suffering, and, in the event of a fatal car accident, even wrongful death. We offer free consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so do not hesitate to contact us. 803.252.4800.

Driver’s Vehicular Manslaughter Charge Upgraded to Murder After Tweets


vehicular manslaughterDriving History and Twitter Feed Led to Murder Charge After Driver Killed Cyclist

On August 14th, an 18 year old man from Pleasanton, California was taken into custody on a murder charge after an investigation into his Twitter feed and past driving history upgraded the charge from vehicular manslaughter.

Cody Matthew Hall appeared in court earlier in the week after charges from the June 9th accident were upgraded from vehicular manslaughter to murder. He is accused of the murder of Diana Hersevoort, 58. Although he walked into the courthouse with a smile on his face and surrounded by friends, the smile quickly disappeared when the judge ordered Hall taken into custody without bail.

He will be held in the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, CA until his court appearance next month for the upgraded murder charge.

On June 9th, Hall caused an accident on a road that, observers say, is popular with cyclists on weekends. Reportedly, Hall was driving 83 mph to pass another driver, when he lost control of his SUV and accidentally hit two cyclists. Mrs. Hersevoort, who was wearing a helmet, was killed after she was thrown from her bicycle, while her husband sustained a leg injury, was taken to the hospital, and released later that day.

After the crash, Hall stopped and spoke with police, but reportedly refused to give a statement. When officials concluded their investigation in July, Hall was charged with felony vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving, and was released on bail after an initial hearing.

However, those charges were upgraded to murder after a discovery that Hall bragged on Twitter about how fast he liked to drive. “An analysis of Hall’s driving record and pattern — along with Twitter posts in which he talked about how fast he liked to drive — factored into upgrading the case to murder,” The Chronicle reports, citing local authorities.

“Drive fast live young,” reads one tweet. Another states, “Someone come on a death ride with me !!!”

Hall could now face “15 years to life on the murder charge and an additional three years and eight months for the reckless driving charge,” reports the Pleasanton Weekly. Prosecutors may use Hall’s bragging Tweets as a “pre-offensive statement” in his murder trial.

South Carolina

Unfortunately, injuries from bike accidents are very common.  Negligent drivers send several hundred thousand cyclists to the hospital every year.  Some riders protect themselves by wearing a helmet and obeying traffic laws, but sometimes that is not enough to prevent serious injury from a bike accident.

Bike accidents most often lead to:

  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Head trauma, including traumatic brain injury
  • Road rash
  • And sometimes death

Whether were hit in a crosswalk, intersection, or on the road by a car following too closely, distracted driving, aggressive driving or failure to yield the right of way, the South Carolina accident lawyers at the Strom Law Firm, LLC will fight to secure fair compensation for your injuries.

The Strom Law Firm Defends Victims of Personal Injury, Manslaughter, or Murder in Accident Cases

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a South Carolina ATV accident or a bike accident, contact the Strom Law Firm today. Whether your case involves a murder charge in a criminal investigation, or a personal injury or wrongful death case, the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. The sooner you hire one of our accident lawyers, the sooner we will be able to investigate your case and the stronger your case will be. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so do not hesitate to call us. 803.252.4800

First Acceleration-Linked Wrongful Death Bellwether Case Against Toyota Goes to Trial

ToyotaAcceleration Problems Linked to Wrongful Death and Personal Injury Go to Court with First Bellwether Case

The first lawsuit in a long line of personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against Toyota for their notorious acceleration problem is going to trial August 8th.

About 85 personal injury and wrongful death cases have been consolidated in Los Angeles.

The first case was filed by Yasuharu Uno and his son Jeffrey, in the wrongful death of Noriko Uno, Yasuharu’s wife and Jeffrey’s mother. The father and son claim that Toyota is liable for her wrongful death because they did not install a brake override system in the 2006 Camry that Mrs. Uno, 66 at the time, was driving when it suddenly accelerated, sped through oncoming traffic, and hit a tree. Brake override systems make the engine idle when both the gas and brake pedals are hit simultaneously.

According to the family’s attorneys, the fifth-generation Camry, like the model Mrs. Uno drove, had a 400% increase in accidental acceleration problems, compared to other Camrys.

“Toyota knew this,” Garo Mardirossian, the family’s lawyer, said in a court filing.  “Toyota did nothing to remedy this. Rather, it recalled and added brake override to the 2007 Toyota Camry, but left Mrs. Uno’s Toyota Camry on the roadways unsafe and without brake override.”

Toyota has already settled economic loss allegations with US drivers for unintended acceleration problems after the recall of 10 million vehicles in 2009 and 2010, which the manufacturer claimed were related to a faulty floor mat, which could shift out of position and cause the gas pedal to stick.

The Accident That Led to the Wrongful Death Lawsuit

On August 28th, 2009, Noriko Uno was out running errands when her Camry was struck by an elderly driver, who is also a defendant in the case. When the Camry spun after the impact, Mrs. Uno’s foot became stuck between the gas and the brake pedal. Because her vehicle did not have a brake override system, the car accelerated out of control and after half a mile of avoiding oncoming traffic, she hit a tree. She died in the second crash.

Toyota, however, claims it is impossible for Mrs. Uno’s foot to have been lodged between the gas and brake pedals for 30 seconds. There is also no substantial evidence that this supposed event caused the accident.

“Approximately 14 witnesses observed Uno as she traveled in the wrong direction,” Toyota said in its memorandum to the court. “Thirteen witnesses testified they never saw brake lights on the Camry, and the only witness who said she saw brake lights, said she saw the Camry brake lights go on for a second then off, then on and off again.”

The manufacturer claims that the fatal accident occurred because Mrs. Uno unintentionally stepped on the gas rather than the brake pedal. Toyota said that unintended acceleration is almost always the driver’s fault for stepping on the wrong pedal.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Vehicle Recall Wrongful Death Cases

If you have experienced a problem with a defective product in your automobile, especially if a defective part has led to an auto accident, personal injury, or wrongful death, and a proper vehicle recall notice has not been issued, you may be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. We can help you with complicated auto insurance claims, and make sure you receive the compensation you deserve to help you with lost income and medical bills. Our attorneys are licensed to practice in South Carolina, Georgia, and New York. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so contact us today at (803) 252-4800.