New ‘no texting’ law becomes effective July 1 in South Dakota
SPEARFISH, SD (June 29, 2020) – Drivers in South Dakota are reminded that beginning July 1, there is a new law on the books prohibiting the use of mobile electronic devices, including cell phones, for texting, using social media, or other purposes while they drive. Drivers can be pulled over and ticketed for the offense starting Wednesday.
“We hope all drivers are already avoiding distracted driving of any kind,” Spearfish Police Chief Curt Jacobs said. “Any activity that diverts your attention from driving should be avoided when you are in the driver’s seat. This keeps you, your passengers, other motorists, and pedestrians safe.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sending or reading a text takes your eyes off of the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. The state Department of Public Safety statistics show that there were 827 crashes in South Dakota last year where distracted driving with cellphones and other electronic devices was a contributing factor.
Previously, the law prohibiting texting while driving was a secondary offense, meaning that a law enforcement officer must see a driver commit a moving violation before pulling them over in order to issue the driver a citation about texting. Violation of the new state law is a primary offense and a Class 2 misdemeanor.
The law does allow drivers to hold the phone to their ear to talk, but any data entry, other than putting the contact number into the device, must be done under a hands-free mode.
Exceptions to the law are:
- Emergency responders and public utility workers in performance of their official duties; and,
- Use of the device to report emergencies to emergency response agencies.
GPS or mapping programs can be used, but information cannot be entered into the device while driving. Drivers can also select a contact out of the device list to then use in a hands-free mode or activate or disengage hands-free mode.
The law originated as House Bill 1169, which was passed during the 2020 legislative session, and it goes into effect on Wednesday, July 1.
“We thank everyone in advance for practicing safe driving,” Jacobs said.