NEWBERRY — Rep. Walt McLeod and 17 co-sponsors from the Democratic and Republican parties have introduced bipartisan legislation to outlaw texting while driving.
The House bill, identified as H. 4631, has been referred to the House Education and Public Works Committee.
Presently, only three states including South Carolina have no statewide law prohibiting texting while driving.
“We thought it was time that South Carolina not be one of those three states, which fails to outlaw this,” McLeod said. “For the past several years, we’ve had great intentions, but nothing has happened. It’s time.”
McLeod said that during the past three legislative sessions, several bills to outlaw texting while driving have been introduced but none has been passed into law.
He believes this is because there has been so much disagreement over the penalties, particularly where there has been a wrongful death resulting from a wreck, if and when gross negligence should be charged, and the severity of the criminal penalty.
The McLeod bill would express the state’s public policy outlawing texting while driving. The fine for a violation would be $25, which is the same as the fine for driving with no seat belt. There would be no points assessed against the driver for the violation.
The next step for the bill, McLeod said, is for there to be a hearing before a subcommittee chair of the House Education and Public Works Committee. Once there, lobbyists will speak, testimonies might be given, and eventually the bill would go before a full committee.
“We’re heading in the direction of making drivers more safe while on the road,” McLeod said. “I’m optimistic that it’ll make a difference from where we are now.”