South Carolina senators pre-file bill to make phone use while driving illegal

South Carolina News

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) — South Carolina senators Tom Young of Aiken and Greg Hembree of North Myrtle Beach pre-filed a bill called the South Carolina Hands Free Act, which would make it illegal to use a phone while driving unless it’s hands-free.

Florence City councilman George Jebaily, also the managing partner of Jebaily Law Firm, says a bill like this will create a higher level of responsibility for offenders.

Whether it’s making a phone call or checking your emails, that could soon be illegal while driving in South Carolina. That means no texting, taking pictures, watching videos and more while operating a vehicle. However, if you can use your phone with one touch or using a voice command, that is legal.

According to SC Department of Insurance more than 1,000 people died in traffic accidents on state roads in 2019.

State senators say this bill comes with efforts to limit accidents, injuries and even fatalities.

State Senator Tom Young tells News13 that evidence from similar bills passed in other states, such as Georgia, helped the SC Senate put this bill together.

“We’ve seen it not only work in Georgia but other states and it’s a public safety issue and it’s something that we need to consider in our state to make our roads safer for the traveling public,” Young said.

In April 2016, Council George Jebaily got a resolution recognizing the Casey Feldman Foundation and designating the month as End Distracting Driving Awareness Month. In April 2018, Jebaily worked and did the same in the state.

“It’s a problem our officers are dealing  with everyday. They are having to go to a wreck or have to deal with are violating traffic issues whether it’s running a red light or a stop sign even if there’s not a wreck they are having to deal with that and as a city we promote safety.”

State Senator Young said fines are subject to change during legislative process, but for right now there are consequences for violators.

“On a first offence, a violator would pay a $100 fine with no points on their license. On a subsequent offense it will be a penalty of a higher fine but there will also be points associated,” Young said.

Young stated that he’s hopeful this bill will be picked back up by the Senate Transportation Committee and session begins Jan. 12.

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