E-DUI Legislation in South Carolina

There is a bill for E-DUI legislation in South Carolina currently under consideration to prevent distracted driving. This proposed legislation would create an E-DUI offense, penalizing those who drive while impaired by their cell phones. This new bill could impose serious penalties on distracted drivers, including a $500 fine for each violation.

As the distracted driving bill works its way through the state legislature, it is important for all South Carolina drivers to be aware of the impact this E-DUI legislation could have. They should speak with a compassionate attorney about possible long term effects of these laws.

Current E-DUI Legislation

State Representatives William Crosby, G. Murrell Smith, and Joseph Daning are the sponsors for House Bill 3246, which seeks to prohibit all forms of distracted driving. Their bill 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.” Essentially, this law is a cell phone and electronic devices ban for those behind the wheel.

While the broad language of E-DUI legislation in South Carolina does ban any impairing activity, the sponsors are trying to expand the state’s texting while driving ban. They would prefer it to include a prohibition on all forms of distracted driving, particularly drivers’ cell phone use. According to the bill sponsors, House Bill 3246 is a public safety measure designed to prevent an inherently dangerous activity.

Role of the NHTSA

Many drivers underestimate the risks associated with distracted driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as “any activity that diverts attention from driving.”

This definition could include:

  • Texting while driving
  • Browsing social media or the internet while driving
  • Using any handheld electronic device, such as a cell phone or tablet
  • Making a call on a handheld device
  • Eating and drinking while driving
  • Playing games on a mobile device while driving

NHTSA also considers distracted driving as one of the most prominent causes of fatal car accidents across the country. The agency reported 3,477 distracted driving fatalities just in 2015. Even more alarming, NHTSA reports that nearly 660,000 drivers use their cell phones behind the wheel. South Carolina House Bill 3246 would help prevent some of the impact distracted driving has in this state by severely penalizing such behavior.

Impact of E-DUI Offenses

House Bill 3246 would attempt to curb distracted driving by creating an E-DUI penalty. Under E-DUI legislation in South Carolina, drivers found under the influence of their electronics would face a possible criminal offense and harsh penalties. In fact, the bill states that anyone who is convicted for violating the distracted driving law “must be fined not more than five hundred dollars.”

Convicted drivers would have to pay this step $500 fine upon each conviction. Given that distracted driving rates have been steadily climbing, it is likely that some South Carolina drivers could find themselves with numerous, costly convictions.

State legislators have been trying to pass a total distracted driving ban for several years. In 2014, the state’s texting while driving ban took effect, though many argue it has done little to prevent distracted driving risks. The current texting while driving ban only cites offending drivers $25, and the law allows for many exceptions. State Representatives and safe driving advocates are hoping that if House