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Port Royal Bans Texting and Driving, Neighbor Questions Its Enforcement

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PORT ROYAL, S.C. -

Port Royal is officially the final town to ban texting behind the wheel. Police and town officials say the new ordinance is a no brainer, but not all believe it's a rule so easily enforced.

For the next 30 days, Major Ron Wekenmann says you may notice some more patrols around town.

"We're going to issue warning tickets only, to first time offenders," Maj. Wekenmann says. "Basically, our goal is to make Port Royal streets a little safer."

Port Royal Town Council voted on the ban this week. It will not only make texting illegal, but also any action like manually typing information onto a handheld device while operating a motor vehicle.

"It absolutely was a unanimous vote with no public opposition whatsoever," Town Manager Van Willis said.

But shop owner Allison DuBose fears it's one ordinance easier said than done.

"I think the actuality of it is that it's going to be pretty much ignored," DuBose says.

The reason the rule does not make DuBose feel safer, is because he isn't sure it can be enforced. He calls it a ‘feel good law.'

"Some people will feel good just as long as texting is banned. They'll feel safer, but for the actual effect of it, I think it's a ‘wait and see,'" he says.

He believes any citation will be a mere slap on the wrist, after the fact that the deed is done.

Police hope the penalty of a fine will be a more of a deterrent.

However, the counts of citations and warnings issued to those in violation of distracted driving across Beaufort County seem low, so far.

The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office reports issuing 24 warnings since the county wide ban was enacted in September. They reported no tickets issued.

Beaufort Police reported 35 tickets issued since their ordinance in November 2012, and nine warnings.

Bluffton Police say they have issued no citations or warnings since their ban was enacted this past November. They say their department is still in the process of educating drivers about the ordinance.

DuBose believes this enforcement will do nothing to stop those who wish to text behind the wheel.

"You can't legislate morality, you can't legislate people's actions on their own time. You can pass all the laws you want to but it's not really going to have an effect," he says.

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