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Pennington County bans texting while driving

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News Mitchell,South Dakota 57301
The Daily Republic
Pennington County bans texting while driving
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

RAPID CITY (AP) — The Pennington County Commission has joined a number of other South Dakota local governments in banning texting while driving.

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The South Dakota Legislature has refused so far to pass a statewide ban, so some eastern South Dakota cities have passed ordinances prohibiting texting while driving.

Anyone caught texting while driving in the sprawling western South Dakota county could be fined $200, the Rapid City Journal reported ( ). The ban would be enforceable only on county roads, not on city roads like those in Rapid City.

County commissioners said their vote sends an important message to drivers and to state lawmakers.

"I think we need a texting law in Rapid City. I think we need one in the state of South Dakota," said Commissioner Ron Buskerud , who proposed the ban.

Commission Chairman Lyndell Peterson said the Pennington County Sheriff's Office could face a challenge in enforcing the ban, but it gives law enforcement officers a tool they need and it highlights the public's concern about texting while driving.

Local law enforcement officials said they wonder how and where the law will be enforced because it will not apply on some roads in the county.

"It's checkerboard rule-making that's confusing to me," Rapid City Police Chief Steve Allender said.

Pennington County State's Attorney Mark Vargo said cities have lawmaking authority within their boundaries, but he's not sure how the county texting ban will be enforced in communities that have law enforcement contracts with the sheriff's office.

Associated Press