South Carolina’s Texting and Driving Ban: Seeking to Reduce Distracted Driving Fatalities

December 13, 2015

In June of 2014, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed legislation imposing a statewide texting while driving ban, which was essentially a formal response to eliminating, in part, all of the various inconsistent and disparate local texting bans enacted by local municipal governments, and creates a uniform texting while driving ban throughout the state. The language of the statewide texting while driving law sets forth that, “it is unlawful for a person to use a wireless electronic communication device to compose, send, or read a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle on the public streets and highways of this State.”  Furthermore, “text-based communication” under the law is defined and otherwise includes text messaging, instant messaging, and e-mailing.

The New Law

According to the new law, dialing and speaking on a cell phone are not banned under the new state law and additionally, the statewide ban on texting while driving does not necessarily apply in circumstances where the “driver is parked, stopped at a stop sign or red light, using a device’s GPS function, using a hands-free wireless electronic communication device, texting a request for emergency assistance, using a digital dispatch system, or performing duties as a public safety official.” Additionally, those drivers that are found to have violated the texting while driving ban may be subjected to a number of fines, penalties, and ticketing, specifically up to $20 for a single infraction. South Carolina’s fine is lower than in the neighboring states of Georgia ($150), and North Carolina ($230), and unlike in other states, a violation is not considered a criminal offense.

An Officer Can Pull You Over for Texting While Driving

The texting while driving ban, though, seeks to create other standards of fairness for drivers, where “violations will not be included in DMV or SLED records [and] a clause in the ban also prevents law enforcement agencies from reporting texting-while-driving incidents to drivers’ insurance companies, although the Department of Public Safety will track statistical information on citations written.”  Additionally in recognizing fourth amendment issues, the South Carolina texting while driving ban also includes a provision stating, “that an officer cannot pull you over unless he or she has a “clear and unobstructed view” of you using a cell phone or mobile device [and] once you have been pulled over, the officer cannot seize, search, or view your phone to prove that you were texting [and] you cannot be arrested for the offense unless you fail to appear in court or pay the fine.”

When You Are Injured by a Distracted Driver

If you have been injured as a result of a driver that was texting while driving or a distracted driver, you should seek that assistance of an attorney to assist you through navigating the various legal issues you may face. The Auto Accident Attorneys at The Connell Law Firm, LLC can represent you through every step of the claims process, from proving the fault and distraction of the other driver to helping you recover your full settlement amount. Call us today to learn more about your rights now.