South Carolina Bans Texting While Driving
Most people are familiar with the campaigns that discourage drivers from using cell phones while behind the wheel. The vast majority of states in the country, including North Carolina, have had texting bans in place for quite some time, assigning real consequences to the practice. South Carolina is now on that list, joining 48 other states and Washington, D.C., in an effort to crack down on the behavior.
Prior to the new law, which was approved in early June, there were nearly two dozen similar ordinances in place in cities and counties around the state. According to one state representative, the inconsistency was problematic for drivers who traveled through South Carolina, not knowing whether the area they were in permitted the behavior.
The ban has been up for discussion for years as some legislators were hesitant to restrict texting but not other distracting practices, such as eating or even changing the radio station.
Defining the Behavior
Though Montana is the only state left to pass a consistent ban on texting, there are several that still permit the behavior depending on the age of the driver. South Carolina is one of 44 states that restricts texting no matter how old the driver is. There are some caveats, however, as outlined by the new law:
- A driver may text if he or she is legally stopped.
- Hands-free texting is still permissible.
- Dialing a phone and speaking on it are still legal.
- GPS navigation is allowed.
Safety officials are exempt from the ban, as are people who are texting for emergency assistance.
The Consequences of a Violation
In order to pull someone over on suspicion of distracted driving, the ban states that law enforcement must have a clear and unobstructed view of the behavior. If ticketed, a first offense may carry a fine of $25 and repeated offenses could cost a driver as much as $50. While the ban is effective immediately, the fines will not be imposed until mid-December of this year.
Those who are ticketed may catch a break, however, as the ban includes a clause that prevents law enforcement from notifying insurance agencies that a driver has texted while driving. Typically, a distracted driving citation causes an average spike of 20 percent in an insurance premium, according to Bankrate.com.
Texting while driving can have other serious consequences, such as car accidents that result in injury and property damage. Anyone facing a traffic citation should consult with an attorney at Nosal & Jeter, where we have years of experience fighting tickets and protecting drivers from unnecessary and costly penalties.
Source: Fort Mill Times, “Texting while driving now illegal statewide in SC,” Seanna Adcox, June 10, 2014