, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, January 02, 2014
In the weeks leading up to the start of the New Year, South Carolina lawmakers worked on bills covering issues that include safety on the state’s roadways.
One bill taps speeders and other traffic offense violators to boost funding for new police officers.
Sen. A. Shane Massey, R-Edgefield, filed a bill for the upcoming regular session. It would add $5 to all “fines, forfeitures, escheatments, or other monetary penalties” resulting from minor traffic offenses or for non-traffic violations.
Revenue raised from S894 would be earmarked for law enforcement training.
A separate bill covers certain people working along or near roadways. Sponsored by Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, S829 would double fines for speeding violations that occur in areas where highway maintenance, construction or sanitation workers are present.
Speeding up to 10 mph over the posted limit could result in $50 fines – up from a maximum of $25. Driving as much as 15 mph over the posted speed limit could result in fines up to $100, instead of the current maximum fine of $50. Violators driving up to 25 mph over the posted limit would face $150 fines – up from $75.
Rep. Josh Putnam, R-Greenville, filed another bill that is intended to combat aggressive driving on the state’s major highways. Drivers of all vehicles would be prohibited from lingering in the left lane of interstates.
H4391 specifies that anyone driving in the left lane 5 mph below the posted speed limit would be in violation. Left-lane use would only be permitted for passing other vehicles.
Violators would have two points added to their drivers’ license.
The rule would not apply when there are no other vehicles in the left lane. Also, drivers would be exempt if they are in the left lane to turn or exit, or if traffic doesn’t allow them to merge back to the right.
Cellphone use while traveling in the far-left lane would also be forbidden. Fines would be $25.
Another bill also covers distracted driving through highway work zones. S880 would make it unlawful to use a cellphone to talk or text in affected stretches of roadway.
Violators would face up to 30 days behind bars and/or fines up to $500.
One more bill would increase fines and jail time for driving violations in work zones.
State law now authorizes fines up to $200 and/or up to 30 days in jail for offenders.
Sponsored by Sen. Paul Campbell, R-Berkeley, S139 would put minimum fines at $250. Speeding incidents that result in injury to another person could result in a $1,000 fine, as well as one month behind bars.
Wrecks that injure construction workers could result in fines up to $5,000 and two years in prison. Incidents that result in the death of construction workers could result in fines up to $10,000 and three years in prison.
Any offense in a work zone would result in two points being added to the driver’s license.
The bills await consideration in committee once the regular session begins Jan. 14.
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