A proposed bill in the South Carolina legislature would prohibit all forms of distracted driving across the state. This very broad ban would equate distracted driving to impaired driving by creating a DUIE (driving under the influence of electronics) charge. In fact, this bill seeks to impose steep fines on driver found guilty of distracted driving.
Generally, most forms of distracted driving involve using a cell phone or other mobile device. South Carolina currently has a partial cell phone use ban already in place. This law prohibits drivers from texting or emailing on their cell phones while driving. This law has numerous exceptions that allow drivers to still text while behind the wheel. For example, under this current law, drivers can send a text while legally stopped at a red light.
The proposed South Carolina legislation would increase these restrictions and ban all forms of distracted driving. If the DUIE bill becomes law, what types of electronics use would still be legal?
Many states have imposed distracted driving, or DUIE, laws to varying degrees. California has one of the most restrictive laws, prohibiting drivers from holding their cell phones under any condition. Similarly, Washington state law forbids drivers from using any “personal electronic device” while on the road.
Even though the Washington and California state laws are some of the most restrictive distracted driving anywhere in the country, they do allow for some exceptions.
Drivers in those states can still use manufacturer-installed devices, such as a vehicle’s GPS system, or can use their device in a hands-free way. South Carolina House Bill 3246, the proposed distracted driving ban, would likely permit similar exceptions.
What Electronics Would Be Legal Under SC’s DUIE Law?
House Bill 3246 reads in part: “it is unlawful to drive a motor vehicle while engaged in any activity that materially and appreciably impairs a driver’s faculties to drive a motor vehicle.
A person who violates this provision is guilty of driving while distracted and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred dollars.”
Clearly, the proposed legislation is quite broad, and does not specifically define what types of electronics use would still be legal under the DUIE law. However, if the law is anything like other states’ similar bans, it is likely South Carolina drivers would still be permitted to use their personal electronic devices in some manner.
South Carolina motorists would probably be allowed to use their cell phones in hands-free mode, by either affixing their phone in a dashboard holder or by utilizing in-vehicle wireless call functionalities. Drivers would also likely be allowed to utilize GPS devices. Presumably, the would permit drivers to use a cell phone, tablet, GPS, or another electronic device in a way that does not impair their driving if possible. Most likely, this would mean using a device in a hands-free manner.
As the distracted driving bill continues through the state legislature, changes to the legislation will continue to be made. This means that all South Carolina drivers should stay updated to see how the DUIE law could affect them.