Aiken senator expected to file distracted-driving legislation next week

March 23, 2019

Following what state Rep. Bill Taylor called the likely death of his anti-distracted-driving bill, state Sen. Tom Young is expected to file a very similar version on his side of the Legislature early next week.

The Senate version will be known as the “South Carolina Hands-Free Act,” according to Taylor and Young. Both are Aiken Republicans.

The prospective legislation is like the “Driving Under the Influence of an Electronic Device” legislation Taylor filed last session.

The South Carolina Hands-Free Act would make it illegal to hold a phone, call, text, email or watch a video while driving.

Taylor’s version made exemptions for first responders, those reporting a crime and those pulled over or legally parked.

Violators would face a $100 fine – but no points – on first offense, according to Taylor and Young. Subsequent offenses would render a $300 fine and two points.

Violations would be classified as criminal, like “speeding and running a red light,” Taylor said Friday.

“It’s going to be like a traffic ticket,” Young said.

Taylor said he approached Young on Thursday after his bill – this legislative session’s so-called “DUI-E” – was debated on the House floor and was then referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

“We connected, and it’s a workaround for being stymied in the House,” Taylor said.

“Success has many fathers and mothers,” he continued.

Young expects some support and some opposition in the Senate as the hands-free bill rolls out. But, he said, a “vast majority” of people in his district will support the idea.

“Deadly distracted driving is a significant problem on the highways, and there is story after story about families that have been forever impacted as the result...” Young said.

Taylor has pitched his previous attempts as “Texting 2.0,” a reference to South Carolina’s 2014 texting-and-driving ban.