Statewide texting bill heads to Haley's desk

Statewide texting bill heads to Haley's desk

COLUMBIA, SC (AP/WCSC) - South Carolina lawmakers passed a statewide texting ban, which now heads to Gov. Haley's desk to be signed into law.

The bill passed in the House 94-2 on Wednesday afternoon, about a half-hour after the Senate approved the bill by a 42-2 vote.

The bill gives all law enforcement officers in South Carolina the ability to pull over drivers on suspicion of texting while driving, much like pulling over a swerving car on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Otherwise, drivers must be fully parked to be able to text using a wireless handheld device. GPS navigators and texting while driving to contact emergency services would be permitted.

If Gov. Haley signs the bill into law, it would supersede local ordinances to create a consistent ban across the state.

Instead of penalty points, drivers would face fines starting at $25. Committee chair Sen. Luke Rankin of Conway said the state would issue warnings for 180 days before citations are issued.

Copyright 2014 WCSC. All rights reserved. The Associated Press also contributed to this report.