SC Texting and Driving Laws 2021

Laws on distracted driving vary from state to state. Because of major differences, as well as frequent updates, it is challenging to know what is actually illegal for you to do in this state.

Texting and driving became illegal in South Carolina in 2014

This law, written in June 2014, explicitly and specifically prohibits reading, writing, and sending text-based communications from a wireless device while driving. This language thus includes messaging in other ways such as email and instant message, or from another wireless device such as a laptop or tablet.

A different law was introduced in 2019 to ban holding wireless devices entirely while driving, limiting usage to hands-free only. As of 2021, however, the SC Senate Transportation Committee has yet to vote on the bill, meaning that many uses of cellphones are still legal, such as talking without using hands-free technology. While these actions are still technically legal, the current laws are subject to change.

Exceptions to the Texting and Driving Law

A few exceptions exist where you can legally send/receive text-based messages while driving.

You can send/receive text-based messages while driving legally when:

  • You are lawfully parked or stopped
  • You are utilizing a hands-free, voice text method
  • You are attempting to receive emergency assistance
  • You are transmitting/receiving data from a digital dispatch system
  • You are using a GPS
  • You are emergency personnel performing official duties.

South Carolina uses Primary Enforcement regarding Distracted Driving Laws

Primary enforcement means the police has the right to pull you over and issue a citation if they see you using a cell phone while driving, even if you are in complete control of the vehicle. Secondary enforcement would be utilized if the police could cite you for distracted driving only if you were breaking another law simultaneously.

Primary enforcement means the police has the right to pull you over and issue a citation if they see you using a cell phone while driving, even if you are in complete control of the vehicle. Secondary enforcement would be utilized if the police could cite you for distracted driving only if you were breaking another law simultaneously.

Distracted driving is tricky to enforce, however, because to issue a citation, a police officer needs a “clear and unobstructed view” of the driver texting. If the driver claims they were using a GPS or performing another lawful action other than texting, and the officer did not get a clear enough view to prove they were texting, enforcement of distracted driving laws become difficult.

It is important to note that police officers do not have the right to take or search your phone or device, even if you were pulled over for texting while driving.

Consequences of Texting while Driving

South Carolina is one of the most lenient regarding law against texting while driving. For a first offense, offenders often face a fine of no more than $25. The most devastating consequence of distracted driving is the amount of car accidents in the state. In 2018, South Carolina ranked #1 among states for most fatal car accidents by miles travelled. This statistic does not even include the hundreds and thousands of injuries each year due to car accidents, many of which are attributed to texting while driving.

That $25 ticket could easily have been thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost wages if you are in an accident while texting and driving.

A Resource for Victims of Distracted Driving

Distracted drivers put everyone around them at risk. When their actions result in legitimate harm, they can be held liable.

The Trey Harrell Law Office is committed to working on your behalf to ensure you receive the answers you need as well as the best settlement possible for your case. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident as a result of distracted or negligent driving, contact Attorney Trey Harrell at 843.636.8739 today to learn how we can help you.

Disclaimer: Information in this blog is intended for informative purposes only and not legal advice. Please consult with a licensed attorney before you make any decisions on legal matters. Further, viewing of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship with the Trey Harrell Law Office, LLC. Matters will be handled by an attorney who primarily practice out of our office in Charleston County located at 2000 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. Charleston, SC 29407. Robert W. "Trey" Harrell, III is the attorney responsible for this posting.

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