Yesterday, the South Carolina legislature passed S.C. Senate Bill 459, which prohibits texting while driving throughout the state. While Governor Haley must sign the measure before it becomes law, the bill finally cleared the many hurdles that it has faced. It joins recent bans enacted in Charleston, Columbia, and Mount Pleasant.
The bill amends S.C. Code Section 56-1-55, making it unlawful for a driver “to drive a motor vehicle while using a cellular telephone or text messaging device….” Section C of the bill indicates that it does not apply to a driver if she or he fits within one of the following six exceptions:
1. lawfully parked or stopped;
2. using a hands-free wireless communication device;
3. summoning emergency assistance;
4. transmitting or receiving data as part of a digital dispatch system;
5. a public safety official while in the performance of the person’s official duties; or
6. using a global positioning system device or an internal global positioning system feature or function of a wireless electronic communication device for the purpose of navigation or obtaining related traffic and road condition information.
For 180 days after enactment, officers are to issue only warnings instead of traffic citations. Citations will be issued after the six month mark although fines will be only $25.00 and will not be reported to an individual’s insurer or listed on the individual’s motor vehicle record maintained by the DMV. Probable cause, i.e. a “clear and unobstructed view” by an officer is required before an individual can be stopped.
Hat Tip: The State