Fines for sagging pants?

A proposed state law is looking to establish monetary fines and community service as punishment for people who get caught sagging their pants in South Carolina.

The bill would make it unlawful for a person to appear in public wearing "his" pants sagging more than three inches below the "crest of his ileum" (the top of his hips), thus exposing skin or undergarments.

Violations would be a "noncriminal offense," the proposal says, but violators would be subject to fines.

On the first offense, a person could be given a fine of up to $25. On the second, the fine would be up to three hours of community service and a $50 fine, or both.

On the third offense and any thereafter, the fine would be $75, six hours of community service, or both.

Representative Wendell Gilliard (D-Charleston) co-sponsored House Bill 4957, which was introduced Feb. 15.

Gilliard stressed getting involved with HB 4957 because he wants to set an example.

“We have to lead by example," Gilliard says. "It is necessary because it’s not getting any better.”

Gilliard says he first sponsored an ordinance while in city council to get young men to “wear their pants properly. " Ten years ago, he said, people thought he was “crazy” to do such a thing.

According to Gilliard, the situation is getting worse than it was 10 years ago.

“The pants now are being worn below the knees," the former Charleston City Councilman says.

Another reason Gilliard says he is a co-sponsor of the bill is because he wants men to be treated the same as women.

“If a female was to go around in the same fashion, pants down by their ankles or below the waist, we would see that as indecent exposure,” Gilliard says.

The bill is predominately sponsored by Democrats (eight), three of whom are from the Lowcountry. Rep. Joe Jefferson (D – Berkeley), Rep. Robert Brown (D – Charleston) and Rep. Lin Bennett (R – Charleston) are also among the co-sponsors.

Gilliard said he has seen all “creeds and races” with sagging pants and believes that what impacts one race impacts all races.

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