By Liz Segrist
Published Aug. 22, 2013
Charleston could join Mount Pleasant in taking steps to ban drivers from texting or emailing from behind the wheel.
At the request of Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, an ordinance was drafted that would amend city codes to make it illegal to text, read texts, email, use a digital assistant or type on a computer while driving.
“We had been waiting on the state of South Carolina to act on this matter,” Riley said in an email to Charleston City Council. “Since that has not happened, I believe that it is important that we move forward on the issue.”
City Council decided Wednesday to hold a public hearing at 5 p.m. Sept. 9 at Charleston City Hall to discuss the ordinance.
The law would not apply to either drivers who are lawfully parked or stopped, or to police officers, firefighters or ambulance operators while they are performing their jobs. GPS systems and voice-operated technology would also be exempt.
If approved, the ordinance would become effective Oct. 1. Each violation would cost the offending driver $100. No driver’s license points would be added.
An officer would be allowed to subpoena the phone records of the device. No other details about that power were included in the proposed ordinance.
“City Council finds that it is in the best interest of the citizens, visitor and residents using the city’s public rights of way to take action to improve the safety of our streets by prohibiting the use of handheld electronic communication devices for texting by those operating a motor vehicle in the city of Charleston,” the ordinance reads.