Texting and Driving in SC: What You Need to Know
Texting and Driving in SC: What You Need to Know
The dangers of texting and driving in SC are real. And the penalties against those who do it are increasing. Read more about this dangerous offense here.
Keyword(s): texting and driving in SC
As you drive down the road, you hear the text message "ding" you've been waiting for all day. You reach for your phone to use it, but the next thing you know, your car has dinged the automobile in front of you -- not exactly the "ding" you wanted. A feeling of gloom comes over you as you wonder what consequences you'll face for texting and driving in SC.
Research shows that the use of a cellular phone causes more than one out of four accidents in the United States.
It's a growing issue that has sparked increasing penalties against those who use their cell phone while behind the wheel.
We've compiled a guide on what you need to know about texting and driving in SC.
Buckle up. Let's get started!
Texting and Driving in SC: What the Law Says
In South Carolina, it is not legal to write, send or read a text message while driving.
In the same way, you are not legally permitted to handle emails, instant messages or social media site messages while behind the wheel.
And the type of device you use to compose or read these types of messages doesn't matter. Whether it's a cell phone, PDA or laptop, you can get into major trouble for breaking South Carolina law.
However, you are allowed to use hands-free electronic devices. These are devices that allow you to communicate with others wirelessly without having to hold them in your hands, due to having attachments or internal features that make this possible.
In addition, you can use your GPS -- including your phone's GPS -- while operating a car in South Carolina. So, don't worry: You can still get navigation assistance or obtain road or traffic condition information without violating the law.
Texting Another Driver
So, maybe you're not currently behind the wheel, but you can't wait to text someone who you realize is driving at the moment. Is this illegal?
The answer to this question is a maybe.
A New Jersey appeals court was the first U.S. court to rule that a third-party texter may be held responsible for a car accident related to texting.
In the New Jersey case, a teenage girl texted a teenage boy -- right before the boy's truck left the roadway and ended up hitting a motorcycle-riding married couple. Unfortunately, both the wife and the husband lost one leg each in the crash.
At that time, the court determined that any third-party texter -- for instance, the teenager in the above case -- may be held financially responsible for an injury or fatal accident if the texter knew that the recipient was driving at the time.
It's not clear if the court in South Carolina would make the same determination in such a case. But it's safe to say that since the state is cracking down on texting and driving in SC, it very well may adopt this approach as well.
What Else You Need to Know
A couple of other important things to know about texting and driving in SC: First, you can text if your car has to come to a stop or if you are lawfully parked.
So, if you're trying to pass at a red light, go for it!
Second, police cannot legally take your cell phone during a traffic stop. If they try to do this, they're crossing the line, and you have the right to fight back legally.
Consequences of Texting and Driving
If you end up being convicted of texting and driving in SC, you will face a $25 fine. However, you are not labeled a criminal, as texting while behind the wheel is not deemed a criminal offense.
On top of that, don't worry -- the department of motor vehicles won't include this violation on your record, and your car insurer won't receive a report about it, either.
But not so fast. If you have a texting and driving conviction, police might have a reason to pull you over in the future.
Translation: You'll have an annoying target on your back. And that may lead to more serious consequences if you find yourself in any of the following situations:
- Illegal contraband is present in your car
- You're driving while impaired
- You're driving while your license is suspended
- You have a warrant that is outstanding
If you cause a serious accident, the consequences could be even more severe. For instance, you may end up with a vehicular homicide charge on your criminal record if you kill somebody in an accident during which you were texting and driving in SC.
Waiting for a few minutes to respond to a text message vs. Waiting for several years to get out of prison: It's a no-brainer.
Waiting until you have stopped -- or using a hands-free device -- is the best move you could make to protect your future and your freedom.
How Things Could Change in South Carolina
Right now, you're facing a $25 if you are convicted of texting and driving in SC. That may not seem intimidating -- just a couple of movie tickets.
But one lawmaker in the state -- Representative Bill Taylor -- was pushing in December 2017 for a penalty of four times the $25 amount.
That's equivalent to almost your entire monthly cell phone bill.
If the legislation is passed, a first offense will lead to a fine of $100, and a second offense will lead to a $300 fine plus a couple of points on the offender's driver's license.
In this scenario, too many texting and driving instances will eventually lead to the suspension of your license.
We'll learn more about whether this legislation will pass in 2018.
How We Can Help
If you have suffered an injury in a car accident stemming from someone's decision to text and drive, we can help you to pursue monetary compensation to address our losses.
In addition, if you are accused of causing a fatal accident due to texting and driving, for instance, you are not legally guilty unless the government can prove that you are. We can defend you vigorously at trial.
Contact us to find out how we can assist you in pursuing the most personally favorable result following an accident involving texting and driving in SC.