Bill aims to hit texting and driving offenders harder in the pockets

CALHOUN COUNTY, SC (WIS) - "It's the same as if you took a loaded gun inside of a town, and kept shooting it off," Representative Bill Taylor says of texting and driving. "Those bullets are going to come down somewhere. If you're driving a vehicle and you're not looking at the road, who knows where that vehicle is going to go."

Taylor (R- Aiken) calls driving under the influence of electronics (DUI-E) negligent. That's why he's filed a bill in the House, that would increase fines if passed.

"We all see people driving down the road with their iPhone or smartphone here and sometimes they're tapping and driving with their elbow," Taylor says.

Under current state law, a first-time offender is fined $25 for texting and driving; the fine goes up to $50 for each time after that.

Taylor's bill would quadruple that first charge, to $100, and fine $300 each time after the first offense plus two points on the driver's license.

Drivers WIS spoke with were supportive of the idea.

"I see a lot texting and I mean it's dangerous just, I'm definitely against it," Charlie Hilliard said, "maybe will make them think twice before texting and driving."

"I dealt with all the time driving a big truck, and it was dangerous," Gary Morgan said. "Wouldn't hurt, you know- you hit 'em in the pocket where it hurts the most and yes, what else are they going to do to them? Whip 'em with a cat o' nine tails or something if you can get them to pull over."

"Uh, I'm retired law enforcement and when I see these people and see the statistics on deaths, on injuries and these young people being killed, it just, it makes me sick," Tony Oliva said.

Drivers like Oliva feel even more measures should be made.

"I just don't know what the solution is. I have a thought and it's so far-fetched that the manufacturers of vehicles and cell phones should get together and make some kind of- with all this technology- some kind of electronics that you can't make a call while the vehicle is in motion," Oliva said.

Taylor believes the bill should be up for debate in the first few weeks of January.

According to the Highway Patrol, 1,277 citations have been issued so far this year, but troopers say it's likely more could have been issued—that texting and driving goes under-reported because drivers can simply get out of tickets mostly by denying they were doing it.

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