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Hands-free cellphone bill passes the South Carolina Senate

Hands-Free Cellphones
Jeffrey Collins/AP
South Carolina Sen. Tom Young, R-Aiken, speaks in support of his bill banning drivers from holding cellphones on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

The South Carolina Senate gave key approval Wednesday to a bill banning anyone from holding a cellphone while driving.

The proposal faces one last routine vote before heading to the House, which has failed to pass a number of similar bills in recent years.

Supporters said the difference now is Bluetooth and other technology that makes it much easier to talk on a cellphone without holding the device. Georgia has a similar law in place along with about half the other states in the country.

The Senate bill passed 37-3 after several hours of debate. Drivers without Bluetooth could put the cellphone in a cradle and push a button to make or end a call or deal with a navigation app as long as they weren't holding the phone.

Any driver could hold their phone while parked or stopped.

Drivers caught holding a phone would face a $100 fine for the first offense and a $200 fine and two points on their driving record for each additional offense.

Efforts to change the bill to exempt drivers with old flip-style phones or those without Bluetooth devices failed.

"We're trying to save lives in South Carolina," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Tom Young, a Republican from Aiken.