Charleston County Council won’t be banning texting while driving, but at least one councilman would like to support a statewide ban.
Council members discussed the county putting in place a ban at a Finance Committee meeting last week after Joe Qualey requested it be put on the agenda. But the idea didn’t garner much support, Qualey said. “Nobody came out and said, ‘Joe I’m with you.’ ”
He plans to instead ask the group to adopt a resolution in support of a statewide ban at its next Finance Committee meeting. County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor said “a lot of folks see a ban as hard to implement in just one county.”
Pryor, who doesn’t support a county-level ban, said he’s also concerned about government intrusion into what people do in their personal vehicles. “What’s going to be next?” he asked. “Putting makeup on?”
South Carolina is one of only a handful of states that doesn’t ban or limit texting while driving. Efforts to pass such a bill failed in the General Assembly last year after lawmakers expressed concern about personal liberties being taken away and the difficulty in enforcing such a ban. In the Lowcountry, only the city of Beaufort has approved a ban. State Rep. Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston, filed another bill for a statewide ban late last month. Gilliard said he was shaken after running a red light while reading a text. That’s why he sponsored a bill to ban such activity while driving.
Under Gilliard’s plan, a first-offense conviction would bring a $250 fine or 30 days in jail, and a 30-day driver’s license suspension. A second offense would cost $1,000 or 60 days in jail and the license would be suspended for 60 days, with 2 points on the driver’s license.