As many in Greenville, SC are aware, the City is considering enacting a law that would prohibit the use of mobile devices while driving. Violators of this proposed ordinance could be subject to fines and the ultimate destruction of their mobile device. While being fined $100 and having your phone taken by the police are reasons enough to obey this new law, drivers in Greenville should be aware that these penalties are minor in comparison to the constitutional rights they are giving up when they choose to send that ever important text from the road.
Currently, the police may only pull you over for a traffic violation or if they suspect you are involved in criminal activity. The most typical situations seen in our law firm are automobile stops that result in our clients being arrested for DUI or drug offenses. Common examples or traffic stops range from speeding to not putting on your turn signal. Unfortunately, these minor traffic violations are sometimes used as justification for pulling someone over because they look a certain way that the officer associates with criminal behavior. This practice is commonly referred to as “profiling.”
The texting while driving ban will be one more traffic violation that the police can use to legally justify the stop of your vehicle. To truly appreciate the impact of this new law, do the following on your next few trips in the car: First, count how many people you see using their mobile devices. On your next drive, count how many people you see that are clearly violating a traffic law (i.e. speeding, no turn signal, brake light being out). The mobile device users should outnumber the traffic violators by at least 3 to 1. Based on this basic observation, you can now understand how this ordinance would increase the number of drivers that police could legally pull over. Once the police have lawfully stopped your vehicle, they may continue to question you or possibly search your vehicle depending on what they observe during the stop.
Regardless of whether you agree with the distracted driving ban or not, everyone should be aware of the effect it may have on their constitutional rights while behind the wheel.
Disclaimer: This is not legal advice.
By: Alex Stalvey