Texting While Driving in SC? Think again.

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Texting while driving is dangerous, and it is important to know the laws
surrounding your state regarding this topic since texting while driving impairs a
driver’s cognitive, visual, and manual abilities.

What Are The Texting and Driving Laws for South
Carolina?

In South Carolina, it is illegal to create, send, or read any text message
communication while operating a motor vehicle. And this is not just reserved for
SMS messages but extends to direct messages on social media or even emails.
Additionally, this law does not only apply to cell phones, but any device, including
laptops, PDA, or any other device capable of wireless communication. If you are
using these types of devices while driving, you are breaking the law.

This could also have ramifications for personal injury suits since any driver who is
texting, and driving could be held responsible for the accident. If you are hit by
someone who was texting and driving, then their insurance company would more
than likely be the company you would have to file a claim with.

The Facts and Stats About Texting & Driving

  • There are more than 2.5 million people in the U.S. involved in road
    accidents each year.
  • Of these accidents, 1.6 million (64%) have a cell phone involved in them.
  • 1/4 of car accidents in the US are caused by texting while driving.
  • Each year, there are over 330,000 accidents
  • 78% of these accidents caused by texting while driving lead to severe
    injuries.
  • If you text and drive, you are 6 times more likely to end up in an accident than if you were driving drunk.
  • On average, a driver driving at 55 mph texting takes their eyes from the road
    for an average of 5 seconds, the equivalent of driving the length of an entire
    football field, blind.
  • When you text while driving, the time that you spend with your eyes off the
    road increases by about 400%.
  • The chances of a crash occurring increase 23 times when a driver is texting.

Repercussions for Texting and Driving in South Carolina

If someone is convicted of texting while driving in South Carolina, they will be
fined $25. It is also not considered a criminal offense and the DMV will not
include the driving violation on your record, and the violation will not be reported
to your insurance company. However, if you are convicted of texting while driving,
it does give the police cause to stop your vehicle and can lead to other
consequences especially if you are driving while suspended, intoxicated, have
illegal contraband, an outstanding warrant, or other violations you may be
committing.

Texting while driving becomes even more problematic if it causes an accident. As
we discussed above, texting while driving significantly increases your likelihood of
getting into an accident, and this increase could cause you or someone else serious
injury or death. If you are convicted of causing an accident because you were
texting while driving, then you could be charged with vehicular homicide or some
other crime by the police department. If you have an emergency, then please pull
over, use a hands-free device, and take steps to mitigate the damage you could
cause by driving while distracted.

Are Hands-Free Devices legal in South Carolina?

Yes, but there are certain requirements a device has to meet in order to be
considered a “hands-free electronic device.” The definition of a hands-free device
is: “an electronic device, including, but not limited to, a telephone, a personal
digital assistant, a text-messaging device, or a computer, which allows a person to
wirelessly communicate with another person without holding the device in either
hand by utilizing an internal feature or function of the device, an attachment, or an
additional device. A hands-free wireless electronic communication device may
require the use of either hand to activate or deactivate an internal feature or
function of the device.”

Can I Use My Phone’s GPS While Driving in South
Carolina?

Yes. Using a phone’s GPS while driving in South Carolina is legal, and you may
use this feature for the specific purpose of navigating your route or obtaining
traffic/road condition information.

If I’m Stopped, Can I Text?

In South Carolina, the law states that texting is not illegal to text if you are
“lawfully parked or stopped.” However, it is a good idea to simply not send or read
messages while behind the wheel of your car. It is safer to wait until you are done
driving, or to use a hands-free device.

or Device?

No. If you are ever stopped for texting while driving, the police officer is not
allowed to take your cell phone away from you.

Am I Allowed to Text Someone who I Know is Driving Even
if I’m Not?

For South Carolina, the answer is “maybe.” In New Jersey, an appeals court
became the first court to convict a third party texter of responsibility for a wreck
involving an 18-year-old boy and a married couple on a motorcycle. The
17-year-old girl texted the boy knowing that he was behind the wheel, and when he
subsequently crashed into the couple, causing them to each lose one leg, the court
ruled that the girl could be held liable. Since she knew that the boy was driving, it
was partly her fault that the boy became distracted and caused an accident. The
appeals court wrote their decision as follows: “when a texter knows or has special
reason to know that the intended recipient is driving and is likely to read the text
message while driving, the texter has a duty to users of the public roads to refrain
from sending the driver a text at that time.”

For South Carolina, it is not certain that they will hold a third party responsible like
New Jersey did, but since they have begun to uphold a strict no texting while
driving law, it is not a huge leap to assume that eventually a similar situation could
come to South Carolina.

The moral of the story? When driving, put the phone away.

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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 Trey Harrell Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney. 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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