It's officially illegal to text while driving anywhere in Beaufort County following a vote Wednesday by Port Royal Town Council.
The town's ban is similar to ones passed by the county, Hilton Head Island and Bluffton and says drivers are not allowed to use cellphones or other handheld electronic devices to review, compose or send messages while behind the wheel.
Port Royal unanimously passed the ordinance at its meeting Wednesday night.
"What's the effective date, Mr. Manager?" Councilman Joe Lee asked town manager Van Willis.
"Um, what time is it now?," Willis shot back. "It's effective immediately, so be careful on your way home."
Violators will be guilty of a misdemeanor and face fines of $100 to $300, depending on the number of times they are cited, according to the ordinance.
The city of Beaufort has a stricter law than the other municipalities, with additional restrictions for drivers under 18, who are also not allowed to make calls. It was the first county location to enact a ban. Since it went into effect in November 2012, police have issued 35 warnings and nine tickets, according to Beaufort Police Department spokeswoman Hope Able. Two of the tickets and three of the warnings were given to drivers 18 and under.
Port Royal Deputy Police Chief Ron Wekenmann said he expected the immediate focus would be on educating drivers about the ban and giving warnings. Information will be posted on the department's Facebook page.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.
- Port Royal council approves $40,000 branding, marketing agreement, Dec. 11, 2013
- Bluffton Town Council bans texting behind the wheel, Nov. 12, 2013
- Beaufort's texting-while-driving ban goes into effect in 60 days, Sept. 11, 2012