Is It Illegal To Text and Drive in South Carolina?

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Distracted driving is dangerous, and texting is one of the most distracting activities that today’s drivers do while operating a vehicle. In addition to understanding the dangers, it is also important to know when it is illegal to text and drive in South Carolina, as this can help you take appropriate legal action if a distracted driver causes an accident.

Trey Harrell Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney is ready to be your first resource after a texting and driving accident. When you contact Charleston distracted driving accident attorney Trey Harrell, you get the guidance and support you need to navigate a complex personal injury claim and secure compensation.

When Is It Illegal To Text and Drive in South Carolina?

According to South Carolina Code Section 56-5-3890, 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.” This South Carolina cell phone law, which went into effect in June 2014, clearly establishes that it is illegal to text and drive in South Carolina using a smartphone or any other wireless device. This law also implicitly implies that using email or instant messaging apps while driving is also illegal.

You might wonder if texting someone you know is currently driving is illegal. While some states have a precedent for punishing individuals for this act, there is no specific law in South Carolina pertaining to the matter. A person who checks their phone and chooses to text while driving is ultimately the one who may violate the law.

Is Texting and Driving Really That Dangerous?

The South Carolina Department of Insurance reports an average of two crashes every hour involving a distracted driver. Circumstances change incredibly quickly on the road, so a moment of distraction is all it takes for an accident to happen. It is illegal to text and drive in South Carolina because the time it takes to read a message or respond to a text is enough for a traffic light to change colors or another car with the right-of-way to pull in front of you.

Distraction is one dangerous byproduct of texting, and there is also the fact that it requires you to take a hand off the wheel. Even if you notice a car, pedestrian, or object in front of you while you are texting, you might not be able to respond appropriately with only one hand.

What Are the Penalties for Texting and Driving in South Carolina?

While it is illegal to text and drive in South Carolina, the penalties are minor compared to those in other states. A first-time offense incurs a $25 fine and does not reflect on your driving record, nor will your insurance company receive a report of the violation. Texting and driving is a valid reason for law enforcement to pull you over, which may lead to charges involving driving under the influence or any other criminal activity that may be in progress.

The consequences of texting and driving become much more severe if it causes an accident. Choosing to text while driving is a clear example of negligence, meaning that a person guilty of doing so will undeniably be at fault for the accident. If you suffer damages because another driver caused an accident while texting, you can seek compensation from their insurance provider or take the matter to court.

Is Texting and Driving Illegal in South Carolina if I Am Stopped?

South Carolina cell phone law states that it is not illegal to text if you are “lawfully parked or stopped.” This means you can use your phone freely when fully stopped at a red light. However, pulling over and finding a safe parking place is much safer if you must urgently respond to a text.

South Carolina law specifically prohibits holding wireless devices entirely while driving. You can, however, use a phone’s GPS while driving. You may use this feature for navigating or obtaining information on traffic and road conditions. You may refer to your phone’s GPS while in motion, but you must pull over before picking up your phone to enter a new destination.

Although it is illegal to text and drive in South Carolina in general, you can still do so in hands-free mode.

According to the South Carolina Hands-Free and Distracted Driving Act, penalties do not apply to a driver who is “initiating a voice-based communication that is automatically converted by the device and sent as text, provided that the device is not held by the operator or supported with any part of the body by the operator.”

How Can an Attorney Help Me After a Texting and Driving Accident?

The damage you sustain in a motor vehicle accident can be devastating, especially if the other driver was texting and too distracted to swerve and mitigate the damage they caused. If the evidence indicates that the at-fault driver was texting during the crash, establishing fault may be simple. Even though it is illegal to text and drive in South Carolina, the insurance company may still make it difficult for you to secure compensation.

The team at Trey Harrell Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney can help you by:

  • Investigating the cause of your motor vehicle accident
  • Collecting evidence to establish that the other driver was negligent or distracted
  • Submitting your claim and filing any other paperwork
  • Negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf
  • Taking your case to court if you decide to sue

Considering that texting and driving is illegal in South Carolina, it is important to have legal representation that can effectively leverage the other party’s negligence during settlement discussions. Contacting your personal injury attorney early will enable you to take swift action before any evidence of wrongdoing is lost.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today

When you experience a car accident due to another driver’s negligence, it is only natural to want to hold them accountable for their wrongful actions. This especially holds true if the other driver consciously decided to use their phone while behind the wheel. It is illegal to text and drive in South Carolina, and your settlement amount should reflect that. Contact Trey Harrell Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney today for a free consultation.

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