Hope Fades for ‘DUI-E’ Bill in South Carolina’s Statehouse

The legislation that took aim at drivers “under the influence of an electronic device” — talking on a cellphone or texting — has lost momentum and is likely to fizzle out completely, according the lawmaker behind it.

by Colin Demarest, Aiken Standard / March 21, 2019
Shutterstock/JRP Studio

(TNS) — State Rep. Bill Taylor believes his anti-distracted-driving bill is likely dead.

The bill widely known as "Driving Under the Influence of an Electronic Device" was debated on the S.C. House floor Wednesday and was ultimately referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

Taylor, an Aiken Republican, that same day predicted the bill would either get stuck in that committee or would emerge as something wholly different – "remarkably changed," to use his words.

"You can never predict the legislative process, but I'm not encouraged," he said.

Taylor went on to decry "legislative trial lawyers" for "sidetracking" the distracted driving bill during Wednesday's discussion.

"It's highly likely their maneuvering will kill the bill for this session," the Aiken representative said.

"Shakespeare was right!" he tweeted, offering little explanation thereafter. The tweet received pushback from at least one fellow lawmaker.

DUI-E, as it's been coined, is a proposed update to South Carolina's 2014 texting-and-driving ban. Taylor has called it "Texting 2.0" on more than one occasion.

House Bill 3355, among other things, would make it illegal to hold a phone, call, text, email or watch a video while driving. The bill includes exemptions for first responders, those reporting an emergency or crime and those pulled over or legally parked.

The use of a headset, bluetooth or dictation would be OK, according to the bill.

Violators would face a $200 fine – an amount that was debated on the House floor Wednesday.

Other concerns raised by a variety of lawmakers included how the bill would affect police and how enforceable the cellphone crackdown would be. Comparisons to running a red light were often drawn.

Taylor filed a similar distracted driving bill last legislative session. At the end of December 2018, Taylor said that first attempt helped determine "the obstacles" and honed this latest version.

Georgia's sweeping distracted driving law – don't hold your phone there – went into effect last year. Taylor referenced Georgia's apparent success while speaking to the Aiken Standard on Wednesday.

©2019 the Aiken Standard (Aiken, S.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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