Penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Electronics in South Carolina

Some South Carolina legislators are pushing to create a new offense to prevent and penalize driving under the influence of electronics. Known as the proposed E-DUI bill, this legislation aims to ban all forms of distracted driving. The legislation proposes stiff penalties for those convicted of an E-DUI.

If the bill becomes law, South Carolina motorists will be prohibited from using their cell phone while driving, or engaging in any type of activity that would distract them from driving safely.

Those found using their cell phones while driving, or otherwise driving while distracted by an electronic device, could face serious penalties for driving under the influence of electronics if this bill becomes law.

Even though the state law has not yet changed, South Carolina drivers should remain aware of the potential changes, and the possible penalties they could face for distracted driving in the future and they should know that an experienced attorney is available to answer any questions they have about the bill.

Texting While Driving vs. E-DUI

In 2014, South Carolina’s ban on texting while driving took effect. This law was the result of vigorous debate in the state’s legislature, and serious public policy concerns.

Many legislators and members of the public were concerned that the texting while driving ban did not go far enough to prevent distracted driving. While debating the texting ban, some legislators pushed for a full cell phone ban.

Now that the texting while driving ban has been in effect for a few years, some lawmakers are again fighting to expand the law into a total distracted driving ban that would create an E-DUI charge.

Penalties for E-DUI

Currently, South Carolina has a driving under the influence law that prohibits motorists from driving while intoxicated, or while impaired by the use of drugs. This law recognizes the possible dangers of driving under the influence, and penalizes those who do so. A DUI in South Carolina is a serious criminal offense.

Those convicted of DUI under the current law face up to 30 days in jail, costly fines, and a six-month driver’s license suspension for just a first offense. South Carolina House Bill 3246 aims to similarly penalize drivers who operate motor vehicles while “impaired” by electronics. This type of distracted driving is known to pose many dangers to everyone on the road. In fact, cell phone use behind the wheel is one of the top causes of car accidents in South Carolina and across the country.

House Bill 3246 proposes a $500 penalty for each E-DUI violation. While the E-DUI penalty is not as harsh as the penalties for other forms of DUI, drivers could still face negative consequences for a violation.

The proposed legislation is still evolving, meaning that lawmakers could add on other possible penalties for E-DUI convictions. It is likely that if the law passes, those found guilty of an E-DUI would also earn DMV demerit points on their driving record.

According to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, those found guilty of breaking any traffic law accumulate these demerit points. When a driver earns too many points, they could face a driver’s license suspension. Additionally, a high number of DMV points can negatively affect a driver’s insurance rates resulting in higher premiums.