A Bill A Day: Texting while driving bans

By Logan Smith - email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – Several bills have been filed in the legislature banning texting while driving.

House bill 4189, filed in November by Reps. Bowen, Bales, Harrison, Wylie and Long, makes it illegal to drive while texting, receiving, or reading text messages or printed reading materials.

Under H. 4189, if an officer believes a driver was texting, he may seize the phone and look at the messages, and can also subpoena the phone records.

The bill carries several degrees of penalties, the least severe of which is if there is no injury or death, resulting in 60 days in jail, $2,500 fine, one-year driver's license suspension and an eight-hour defensive driving course.

The most severe penalty is if texting while driving resulted in death, the offender would be sentenced to between 10 and 25 years in prison.

The bill was referred to the Education and Public Works Committee. To read the full text, click here.

House bill 4190, introduced by Reps. Sellers, Bales and Harrison, makes it illegal to use any handheld wireless communications device while driving.

The bill would make doing that a two-point violation, and would result in a $125 fine.

That bill was also referred to the Education and Public Works Committee. To read the full text of the bill, click here.

House bill 4206, introduced by Rep. G.R. Smith, would allow cell phones and phone records to be used as evidence in lawsuits stemming from traffic accidents.

If the bill passes, use of a cell phone may be used to reduce a driver's liability.

However, a person is not guilty of a violation if they're using the phone to respond to an emergency that presents an imminent risk of death or serious bodily harm to the person or another, or are using a phone equipped with a hands-free device.

The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee on January 12. To read the full text of the bill, click here.

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