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      Mt. Pleasant PD to be lenient on texting-and-driving ban for now

      By Stacy Jacobsonsjacobson@abcnews4.com

      MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- Kari Ryan applauded Mount Pleasant Town Council for passing a ban on texting and driving. She said she partially felt that way because it would help her avoid the practice.

      "Sometimes I [text and drive], but if it was a law, I would be better about it," Ryan said.

      Mayor Billy Swails said he wanted the ordinance to do exactly what Ryan said it would do for her: act as a deterrent. Swails wanted it to make a special impression on younger drivers.

      "We hope the youthful drivers in our community, their parents and themselves say, 'We know it's dangerous,'" Swails said.

      The ordinance banned using any handheld electronic device to draft, read or send any kind of message.

      "That includes Facebook and emails; not just texting," Police Chief Carl Ritchie said.

      Dialing a phone number and talking on the phone while driving is still legal under the new law.

      "If they think somebody is maybe dialing a phone number and they can't tell they're texting for sure, we're not going to make them stop," Ritchie said. "It has to be an obvious infraction of the new ordinance."

      Ritchie said the police department is in an indefinite education period. For now, officers will only give out warnings. The education period includes making the public aware through the town's website, the media and road signs.

      Ritchie also said his officers would be lenient with people from outside the area.

      "We just hope it saves one life and we'll be extremely happy," Swails said.

      The school resource officers at Wando High School started informing students about the new law Wednesday.

      The ordinance does not apply to:oLaw enforcement officersoFirefightersoEmergency medical techniciansoOr other public safety officials while in the performance of his/her official duties

      The ordinance does not apply to any person using the handheld communication device for:oVoice communication while operating the vehicleoCalling 911 or other emergency numbers to contact public safety forcesoCommunication while maintaining a motor vehicle in a stationary and parked position

      What are the penalties for breaking the law?

      $50 (if the violation does not occur at the time of a traffic accident) for a final cost of $158.75

      • $50 - Town of Mount Pleasant
      • $53.75 - 107.5 percent SC surcharge
      • $25 - Law Enforcement State Surcharge
      • $25 - Victim Advocate Fund
      • $5 - Criminal Justice Academy State Surcharge

      $200 (if the violation occurs at the time of a traffic accident) for a final cost of $470

      • $200 - Town of Mount Pleasant
      • $215 - 107.5 percent SC surcharge
      • $25 - Law Enforcement State Surcharge
      • $25 - Victim Advocate Fund
      • $5 - Criminal Justice Academy State Surcharge

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