SC Senate gives green light to distracted driving law

The South Carolina Senate passed third reading on Wednesday of a law that would ban distracted driving among novice drivers.

Novice drivers include people with driving permits or those with special restricted or conditional drivers licenses.

All wireless electronic communication devices are included under this legislation.

South Carolina now is one of the last states in the country that doesn't have any type of law that regulates distracted driving.

"We have a significant number of our legislators who have a strong Libertarian streak in them, which means they believe it should not be up to the state to tell them how to do things," said State Senator Brad Hutto (D), Orangeburg.

First-time offenders will have to pay a $75 fine if they violate the law. A $25 dollar surcharge will go to the State's Trauma Care Fund.

People who are parked or stopped at a traffic light, as well as people who use a hands-free wireless device, would be exempt under the bill.

Several people in our area said they'd like this new law to apply to more than just novice drivers.

"If something is passed here, it should apply to everyone, not just teenagers," said Joe Beattie.

Beattie is originally from New Jersey. He said his state's distracted driving laws apply to everyone.

However, some drivers said legislation may not be the most effective way to stop distracted driving.

"People break laws all the time, so it's a 50-50 chance it would work," said Alex Rogers.

According to Sen. Hutto, there's a good chance the bill could pass sooner rather than later.

"We decided to go ahead and pass what we could. If the House would amend it to something that includes a higher number of drivers," he said.

This bill will now go onto the House. It will need three votes from the House and the governor's signature before it becomes law.

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