by Paul Bowers
The City Paper reported Thursday that, despite having a distracted driving ban on the books since Oct. 8, Charleston police had not written a single ticket for texting while driving.
Today, a police spokesman called with an update: An officer did issue a citation for violation of the ordinance on Dec. 10, 2013. No incident report was written, so further details were not available. This new information contradicts the statement of a municipal court spokesperson, who said that zero such tickets had been written.
Mt. Pleasant and Charleston both passed bans on distracted driving in the fall of 2013, and while representatives from both towns' police forces say that enforcement is in full effect, the Mt. Pleasant Police Department had not issued a single ticket as of Thursday afternoon.
"I spoke with [Chief Greg Mullen], and he says we are aggressively enforcing the ordinance," says Charleston Police Department spokesman Charles Francis. "He says we're hoping people will do voluntary compliance."
When asked about the complete (or near-complete) lack of tickets written for an ordinance that began its enforcement phase two months ago, City Councilman Mike Seekings said police were waiting to enforce it until the city installed street signs warning drivers about the new rule. But Francis says officers are enforcing the distracted-driving ban regardless of signage.
"If there's a blatant violation, we will enforce it," Francis says.
The ordinance bans texting, e-mailing, and entering addresses on mobile devices while operating any vehicle that is not parked, but it allows dialing and making phone calls.