MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Texting while driving is one step closer to becoming illegal in the state of South Carolina for novice drivers. Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee nearly unanimously passed the measure.
A novice driver would be someone with a beginner's permit, some restricted licenses and some conditional licenses. Those caught breaking the law would be given a ticket. The first offense would be $100. A second offense would be $200. A third offense would be $300.
Senator Greg Hembree says preventing some of the population from texting while driving is better than nothing. Hembree, a former Horry County Solicitor, has helped to prosecute cases and has seen firsthand what can happen when texting and driving.
"Families lose their children, spouses lose their partners, and when you see that you know this can be prevented," he says.
But Hembree admits enforcement won't be easy. He says an officer would have to have a clear, unobstructed view of the novice driver texting in order to pull that person over for the offense. The law would not apply to someone who is trying to get emergency help or who is parked or stopped. If a novice driver gets pulled over for something else and an officer asks them if they were texting, the driver can say whatever they like.
"We know there are going to be a lot of people that get away with it," says Hembree. "We realize there are going to be ways to beat the system but hopefully, and this happened with seat belts; we experienced this with seat belts. When you tell people it's against the law, most folks are rule followers"
A third reading will be taken up on this bill Tuesday. If it passes the full Senate it will be taken up by the SC House likely on Thursday. Then it goes to Governor Haley's desk.