Right now, South Carolina only has one significant distracted driving law on the books – the statewide ban on texting while driving. The proposed legislation would create a statewide ban on all forms of distracted driving, including prohibiting all cell phone use behind the wheel. This proposed legislation would create a new type of E-DUI charge, for driving under the influence of electronics. Under the proposed bill, South Carolina drivers who use a cell phone while driving would be considered as impaired as those who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If that proposed bill becomes law, any driver in violation of the cell phone ban could face numerous consequences, including possible criminal penalties. If the distracted driver causes an accident, they could also face a lawsuit in civil court for injuries victims sustained in the crash. Should this legislation pass, drivers could face numerous consequences for South Carolina E-DUI offenses. Get in touch with a South Carolina attorney to learn more.
Proposed Penalties for E-DUI
Driving under the influence is currently a serious criminal offense in South Carolina. The law includes consequences for South Carolina E-DUI offenses for anyone who is eventually convicted. The proposed South Carolina House Bill 3246 would impose a $500 fine for each distracted driving conviction.
This would make cell phone use behind the wheel, including browsing social media on their phone, texting or emailing on a cell phone, or otherwise using a mobile device, a costly violation. Moreover, it is likely that someone convicted of an E-DUI would face demerit points on their driving record.
Accumulating DMV demerit points can lead to even more administrative penalties, including driver’s license suspension. The proposed law does not specify how many points distracted drivers would accumulate. However, any driver found in violation of state traffic laws, or those convicted of DUI, do “earn” these points. This means that if the E-DUI bill becomes law, those convicted of distracted driving would face these demerit and administration consequences upon conviction.
Civil Consequences for E-DUI
All South Carolina drivers are required to take reasonable care to avoid causing harm to other people and to property. A reasonable action a driver should take to avoid harm is to obey state traffic laws, including distracted driving and DUI laws. Drivers who act speed excessively, text while driving, or engage in other reckless behavior may be considered negligent if they cause an accident.
State law permits victims of auto accidents to sue negligent drivers for the injuries and property damage sustained in a crash. More and more often, distracted drivers are causing accidents and facing lawsuits related to those accidents.
Impact of Distracted Driving Offenses
If South Carolina imposes this distracted driving law, convicted drivers could face the fines and DMV penalties as consequences for South Carolina E-DUI offenses. Importantly, drivers could also face non-legal consequences that have long-lasting effects. Employees who need a clean driving record for work, such a bus or delivery drivers, could lose out on job opportunities if convicted of an E-DUI. If the E-DUI law creates a criminal penalty, rather than a traffic violation for distracted driving, convicted drivers could have a criminal record for years to come. It is important for South Carolina drivers to stay updated on the E-DUI bill, and learn about the potential consequences this legislation could have for them.