June 11, 2014
SC Legislature Passes Ban On Texting While Driving
On June 4, 2014 the South Carolina Legislature passed a bill that prohibits the use of wireless electronic communication devices while operating a motor vehicle in this State. Governor Hailey signed the bill into law on June 9, 2014 which makes the ban effective immediately.
S.C. Code Section 56-5-3890(B) provides that “[i]t 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 the is State.”
The statute defines “wireless electronic communication device” as any electronic device such as a telephone, personal digital assistant, a text-messaging device or computer which allows a person to communicate with another person wirelessly. It further defines “text based communication” as communication using “text-based information, including a text message, an SMS message, instant message or electronic mail message.
The statute specifically does not apply to a person who is lawfully parked or stopped, using a hands-free wireless electronic communication device, summonsing emergency assistance, using a digital dispatch system or GPS. It further does not apply to “a public safety official while in the performance of official duties.”
Violation of this section is not a criminal offense, but a civil penalty, the fine for which is $25.00. A record of a violation is not maintained by the Department of Motor Vehicles nor is it to be reported to the offender’s motor vehicle insurer.
The passage of this Act by the South Carolina Legislature preempts and supersedes all other local or municipal ordinances.
For the first 180 days following the effective date of this legislation, law enforcement is only allowed to issue warning tickets.
“This ban on the use of wireless communication devices to text while driving is now the law of this State,” Sheriff Kenney Boone stated. “For some, the texting habit will be hard to break. We urge everyone to cooperate with law enforcement as we continue work to reduce motor vehicle accidents.”
Captain Michael M. Nunn