Cell Phone Use While Driving in South Carolina
As cell phone capabilities increase, authorities are required to constantly evaluate existing laws and how effective they are. Rules and regulations vary by state and each area is also responsible for determining the penalties for violations. The wide range in laws can make it difficult for drivers to keep track of the exact laws wherever they’re driving.
Why the Need for Cell Phone Laws?
In 2014, the National Safety Council issued a news release depicting the increasing number of traffic incidents involving cell phone usage. The release claims drivers have reported using a hands-free or handheld device to make a phone call in 21 percent of all crashes. Texting was a factor in 5 percent of traffic incidents, making the total number of crashes involving cell phone use to be 26 percent. This means that over one quarter of traffic collisions could be avoided if cell phone use was restricted.
What Are the Laws in South Carolina?
Currently, the laws in South Carolina do not prohibit drivers from using a hand-held cell phone, regardless of the age of the driver. There is, however, a ban against texting while driving for drivers of all ages.
What Are the Punishments?
While there are penalties for using a cell phone while driving, the Charleston City Paper reports that fines in South Carolina are among the lowest in the country. The ban restricts emailing as well as text and instant messaging and applies to operators of all moving vehicles, including skateboards, mopeds, horse-drawn carriages and bicycles on public streets. Previously, cities had control over laws and penalties and some enforced fines of up to $200, but in 2013, a statewide law went into effect warning that drivers would be fined $25 if they were caught texting while driving. Fines in neighboring states, such as Georgia and North Carolina, can exceed $200.
How is This Law Enforced?
Another obstacle in the restriction on cell phones is the fact that it can be difficult for police officers to prove a driver’s guilt. The officer is not allowed to pull a driver over for cell phone usage unless the driver was using the device in a “clear and unobstructed view” of the police officer. The fact that officers are not allowed to force drivers to allow them to view the phone or search it further affects the officer’s ability to prove that a driver was using a cell phone.