Texting while driving: Now illegal in South Carolina

Posted June 10, 2014 7:06 pm | Filed under Featured, Local News

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed the state’s first ban on text messaging and driving Monday, making the palmetto state the second-to-last to pass a ban on the dangerous practice.

The law, which takes effect immediately, allows a police offer to stop and ticket a driver provided they have a “clear and unobstructed view of a person who is using 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.”

Simply put: The bill prohibits the sending or viewing of an electronic message (including text messages and posts to social media) behind the wheel, and carries a $25 fine for the first offense. Subsequent offenses carry at $50 fine.

The bill exempts public safety officials from communicating within their official duties as well as using a GPS navigation system. Drivers are also permitted to engage in text messaging when “lawfully parked or stopped.”

Locally, reaction by law enforcement on plans to enforce the new law appears mixed.

Rock Hill Police Department Mark Bollinger said the department will need to review the law and review guidelines received from the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy.

At the York County Sheriff’s Office, spokesman Trent Faris says the agency’s Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic, or HEAT, unit will use this as another means of cracking down on dangerous driving.

“They’re always looking for someone who is driving erratic, crossing over the center line, speeding or doing anything unsafe… texting is just another thing that they can use in their toolbox to keep York County’s roads safe.”

Between now and early December, police will only be permitted to issue warnings for texting while driving. The law takes its full effect December 9.