South Carolina just joined the 48 states and District of Columbia in banning texting while driving. On June 4th the House and Senate passed bill S.459 that bans texting while driving statewide. Yesterday, June 9th, Governor Haley signed the bill into law and the texting ban went into immediate effect. However, there is a 180-grace period during which drivers will receive a warning.
SC’s new law bans only “text-based communication” and overrides local ordinances. This provides the benefit of consistent regulations through the state, however, stricter limitations in municipalities such as Greenville are no longer in effect. Under the new law, drivers can be pulled over if they appear to be texting when they are in motion. However, texting is permitted at a stop sign or red light. Holding a handheld device to make a phone call while driving is still legal.
A few legislators have been quoted as saying that the new law in which fines start at $25 ($50 maximum) doesn’t go far enough. The PCC supported a full ban of using handheld devices, since this is the most effective and enforceable option, considering partial bans and those restricted to texting yield dismal enforcement effects, as evidenced in this article as well as in this more recent one. PCC believes a full ban is crucial to the problem of distracted driving and is eager to work with partners at strengthening this existing law.