Distracted driving is never a good idea, but it is more prevalent on the roads than ever before. Lawmakers do not always agree on what constitutes distracted driving. As a result, the laws vary from state to state. Unfortunately, South Carolina does not have a good record for distracted driving. It has been reported that the state ranks third for worst driving in the country. Some believe that these numbers reflect the fact that South Carolina does not have stringent regulations in place for distracted driving.
According to the South Carolina Department of Insurance, distracted driving is defined as operating a motor vehicle while doing something else that diverts their attention. Within the state, distracted driving can include grooming, eating, or interacting with passengers while driving. One of the leading causes of distracted driving is cell phone usage, but the state has only made texting while driving illegal. There are no other restrictions on cell phone usage while driving.
Distracted Driving Penalties in South Carolina
For now, South Carolina police can issue tickets to motorists for texting while driving. The fines start at $25, which is less than 25 percent of first offense fines in other states, and no points are added to the driver’s license. Also, it is legal for the drivers to hold their phones while driving for other reasons, such as use of navigation. Repeated infractions do not substantially increase the fine amounts, nor do they pose a risk for driver license suspension. The procedures make it hard to implement the law, and few tickets are written as a result. There are laws under review that may address these issues.
Penalties in Other States
Keeping in mind that South Carolina has a $25 texting while driving fine without increases for additional offenses, the following are examples of regulations in other states:
- Maryland: Drivers using cell phones must be hands-free. First offenders pay $83, with the limit being $160.
- New York: Drivers using cell phones must be hands-free. First offenders pay $50, with the limit being $250.
- North Carolina: Cell phone usage does not have to be hands-free, but texting and application use is not allowed. Fines range from $25 to $100.
- Pennsylvania: Phone calls are permitted, but interactive wireless communication is not. Fines start at $50 for the first offense.
- Virginia: Distracted driving includes texting and other actions, such as eating. The first offense is $125, and this can increase with repeat offenses.
Laws May Be Changing
State lawmakers are proposing stricter laws to address the crisis. A AAA Carolinas spokeswoman stated that distracted driving is an epidemic in South Carolina, and it is even more concerning than drunk driving. She added that stiffer penalties are needed to change driver behaviors. Representative Bill Taylor recommended increasing the first offense fine to $100, with $300 and two points for second and third offenses. Nothing has been decided yet, but these changes could make South Carolina a safer state for drivers.
Columbia Car Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Help Victims of Distracted Driving Accidents
Distracted drivers are a threat to other motorists, and cause thousands of wrecks each year. If you need legal guidance with any type of motor vehicle accident, contact the knowledgeable Columbia car accident lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. We represent clients throughout the state of South Carolina. Complete our convenient online contact form or call 803-929-3600 or 866-881-8623 for a free consultation today.
We proudly serve clients throughout South Carolina, including the areas of Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the areas of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.