South Carolina prefiles cover driver safety issues

| 12/9/2010

South Carolina lawmakers have started prefiling bills for consideration during the 2011 session. Among the more than 430 bills prefiled since the first of the month are efforts that address procedures during traffic stops and the rights of truckers, as well as other drivers, to protect themselves from crooks.

Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, has prefiled a bill for consideration during the session that begins Jan. 11. The bill – S35 – is intended to help alleviate concerns of drivers who are leery about pulling over for law enforcement in what they believe to be an unsafe location.

Truckers and others would be permitted to go ahead and drive to a “reasonably close and safe location before stopping.”

A law enforcement officer who believes the driver is a threat to public safety still would be permitted to force the vehicle to stop.

In the House, Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston, has offered a bill that would expand gun rights in the state. H3118 would give car and truck drivers wide discretion to use self-defense or act in defense of other people.

Deadly force would be allowed against anyone who illegally and forcibly attempts to enter a vehicle if the occupant “reasonably believes” that a crime was occurring or about to occur. Vehicle occupants would not be required to retreat from an intruder before using deadly force.

Another House bill would allow guns under vehicle seats. This will be the second consecutive session that Rep. Bakari Sellers, D-Denmark, has pursued the effort. During the 2010 session the bill stalled in a Senate committee after receiving House approval.

The prefiled bill – H3161 – would allow drivers to carry handguns underneath their seats.

Currently, drivers are allowed to stow guns in a closed glove compartment, console or the trunk. Those restrictions don’t apply to people with a concealed weapon permit, who can legally carry their weapon on them.

To view other legislative activities of interest for South Carolina, click here.

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