'Hands-free' law heads to Mt. Pleasant Town Council - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

'Hands free' law heads to Mt. Pleasant Town Council

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If police see a driver using a handheld device, the fine is $50. If police see a driver using a handheld device, the fine is $50.

A "hands free" ordinance has been voted out of a committee and is headed to the Mt. Pleasant Town Council.

The committee in charge of the ordinance voted, 2-1 Monday, to send the ordinance to the full council on August 13.

The ordinance says that, "no one shall operate a motor vehicle while using a Handheld Electronic Communication Device."

That includes a telephone, cell phone, personal digital assistant, text messaging device, email messaging device a computer or other such instrument that allows a person to wirelessly communicate with another while holding or operating the device with the hand.

Cindy Boatright is originally from New Jersey, one of the 41 states that has banned texting and driving. While Mt. Pleasant's possible law goes beyond just texting, Boatright thinks this is a good idea.

"I especially don't think people should texting while driving because you really have to use your eyes to look at what you're doing, so it doesn't really make a lot of sense," she said.

If police see a driver using a handheld device, the fine is $50. Officials with the town say the fine will be closer to $100 after special taxes and fees are added in.

Boatwright's biggest concern is enforcement. She dealt with what she calls "over zealous" enforcement of the ban in New Jersey.

"It got really annoying in some small towns where I was from  because officers would stop you if they even saw your hand go to your ear," she said.

That is one of Councilman Chris Nickels' concerns. He was the one person who voted not to send the ordinance to the full town council.

"We're placing our police officers to sort of make a judgment call about when they're going to pull somebody over and when they're going to ask that person to hand them over their phone so that they can review it," he said.

In order to be found in violation of the ordnance, the document states that police officers must have a clear and unobstructed view of a person using the device. Officers are not allowed to take the cell phone once a driver is pulled over. They are, however, allowed to ask to look at the phone to see if a text message was sent at the time of the violation.

This ordinance does not apply to police officers, firefighters or EMTs while performing their official duties.

In order to pass, the council must vote on this ordinance twice. That means, the ordinance may go into effect as early as September.

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