Greenville City Council has enacted an ordinance banning distracted driving in the City of Greenville. The ordinance specifically prohibits the use of hand-held mobile devices while operating a vehicle, which includes not only while the vehicle is in motion, but also while the vehicle is temporarily stopped for traffic, at a traffic control device, or for another delay like waiting in a carpool line.

The ordinance does, however, permit drivers to use mobile devices while operating a vehicle as long as they can be used hands free. According to the ordinance, hands free means that the driver is not holding a mobile device up to or near his or her ear to talk or listen, and that the driver is not holding a mobile device in his or her hand(s) and manipulating the keyboard or the screen. In other words, drivers may talk on their mobile phone, use their GPS or listen to music as long as they are using a Bluetooth, or as long as the device they are using is mounted on the dashboard or secured in a cradle or some type of holder. If the device cannot be used hands free, the driver must be legally parked in order to use their hand-held device.

The ordinance takes effect April 1. Between now and then the city will conduct an education and awareness campaign. That campaign is launched with a distracted driving exhibit at Haywood Mall February 28-March 2. 

Once the ordinance goes into effect, drivers who are stopped for distracted driving could be charged a fine of up to $100, plus court costs. The fine increases for second and third offenses and ultimately could result in the loss of a driver’s hand-held device. Greenville police officers will have the discretion to enforce the ordinance through warnings for a period of time.