Statewide South Carolina Texting and Driving Ban Moves to Senate Floor
South Carolina is the only Southern state without a texting and driving ban, but that could soon change.
On Tuesday, February 25th, a Senate judiciary committee passed the latest attempt at a statewide texting and driving ban. The committee recommended, based on the measure, that South Carolinians should be subject to penalties and fines if caught texting and driving. The bill, S. 416, now moves to the Senate floor for a vote.
“People back home are baffled why we don’t have a law banning texting and driving,” state Sen. Greg Hembree, R-Horry, said during the committee hearing.
Municipalities across South Carolina have passed their own texting and driving bans, including Charleston, Columbia, and the latest, Greenville. Like many of the local level bans, the statewide texting and driving ban proposes a steady increase in fines or penalties for first and over offenses: a $100 ticket for the first texting and driving offense, or the driver can take a distracted driving course to avoid the penalty; second offense is a $200 ticket; and third and subsequent offenses are $300. Three or more convictions for texting and driving could lead to two points on the offender’s license.
“We wanted to make it matter,” said state Sen. Shane Massey, R-Edgefield. “(Texting) is “more akin to driving under the influence of alcohol than not wearing seat belts.”
The bill allows drivers to pull over and stop the car to use their phone.
The committee also approved a ban, S. 459, on driver’s with learner’s permits using a mobile phone at all while behind the wheel.
Over the past four years, attempts to pass a texting and driving ban statewide have failed. S. 416’s success probably lies in the fact that in the last year, multiple municipalities across South Carolina have taken distracted driving matters into their own hands.
“We need to pass a state law where everyone knows what the rules are,” said Senate Judiciary chairman Larry Martin, R-Pickens.
One critic, Sen. Paul Thurmond (R-Charleston), said that the bill doesn’t make sense in light of lax attitudes toward other forms of distracted driving.
“We’re OK if people are using their phones to call somebody, we’re OK if they’re eating a sandwich,” he said. “How is it that dialing a phone number is not just as dangerous as texting back the response ‘yes’? You’re hitting 10 potential digits instead of three.”
Sen. Shane Massey (R-Edgefield), who sponsored the bill, defended the ban on texting and driving specifically.
“The bill is not perfect,” he said. “There are many forms of distracted driving. This is not addressing all of them. It is addressing one of the more prevalent forms of distracted driving. What we were really trying to do is trying to narrow the focus and make this as simple as possible.”
The Strom Law Firm Helps Those Injured by Distracted Drivers, Including Texting and Driving
If you have been injured by a distracted driver, the South Carolina accident attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, L.L.C. will fight for fair compensation for your injuries. 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. Our attorneys offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your personal injury case for distracted driving, so contact us today. 803.252.4800.