CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - South Carolina has a texting and driving law, but one lawmaker wants to raise the penalties for those who are caught.
As it stands, the first offense for texting and driving in the Palmetto State is $25 for the first offense and $50 for the second offense.
State rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, wants to raise those fines significantly to $100 for the first offense and $300 for the second offense.
He introduced legislation Wednesday so he can try to put those fines in place. Any subsequent offenses after the second would also include the $300 fine as well as two points on the driving record.
"Today I introduced legislation that advances South Carolina's weak texting law and says to those who would put your life in danger that there is a price to pay for their electronic addiction and potentially dangerous and deadly behavior," Taylor said in a statement. "The proposed legislation puts teeth into the enforcement of DUI-E."
According to information obtained by Live 5 News from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, the South Carolina Highway Patrol has issued 2,871 texting and driving citations since December 2014 when troopers began issuing tickets, including 1,277 issued in 2017 to date. SCHP issued 122 texting and driving tickets as well as 270 texting warnings during its Texting & Driving initiative over the week of Thanksgiving from Nov. 20-26, 2017.
Taylor's "DUI-E" bill would allow answer or initiate phone calls or text messages via voice commands using blue tooth, speaker phone, heads sets or some other hands-free device. Drivers can also adjust a GPS mapping with voice commands or by setting destinations in advance of driving. People behind the wheel would also be allowed to activate or deactivate a function of a wireless device (as example, your phone) with one swipe or a touch, but it still must not be in your hands.
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration said 3,477 people died from distracted driving in 2015. Live 5 News also investigated the South Carolina texting and driving laws in May 2017.
A list of texting and driving laws in each state can be found here.