Earlier this month, South Carolina lawmakers approved a statewide texting-while-driving ban. The bill passed with an overwhelming majority in the House (94-2) and in the Senate (42-2). This ban supersedes several local ordinances, therefore creating consistency within the state.
The law provides 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”. Texting is still allowed when lawfully parked or stopped, as well as when using a hands-fee wireless communication device. The law provides an exception to the rule for emergency situations in which the use of GPS navigation and texting to summon emergency services is necessary. It is important to note that “texting” includes posting to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.
Drivers who violate the law will receive a fine not to exceed $50. Violation of the law will not be included in the offender’s motor vehicle record or reported to the offender’s motor vehicle insurer.
Law enforcement officers are not allowed to use a violation of this law as reason to seize or search the offender’s electronic device or motor vehicle. During the first 180 days after the law’s effective date (June 9, 2014), officers can only issue warnings for violations.
South Carolina was the 49th state to adopt such a law.