COLUMBIA, S.C.  (AP/WVOC) - South Carolina is now the 49th state to ban texting while driving. 

That takes effect this week with the governor's signature of a new law, which imposes a statewide ban on writing, sending or reading a text while behind the wheel.

The ban supersedes various city and county ordinances on texting, creating consistency across the state. 

For years, state lawmakers resisted passing such a ban, but felt the increasing number of local ordinances caused too much confusion.

Drivers can still text if they are legally stopped or use a hands-free device.  The law also specifically permits using GPS navigation.

A texting violation is not a crime.  The maximum fine is $50.