Texting ban bill filed in SD LegislatureMitchell's Vehle: It’s time to ban texting while driving
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
PIERRE – The battle over texting while driving in South Dakota is on. A state lawmaker from Davison County introduced legislation Tuesday that would ban it in most cases.
“I’m looking at changing the culture. I understand up front it’s difficult to enforce,” Sen. Mike Vehle, R-Mitchell, said.
His measure, SB 142, says no person can operate a motor vehicle on a highway while using a handheld electronic device to write, send or read a text-based communication.
There would be exemptions in four sets of circumstances:
While the vehicle is lawfully parked;
To contact an emergency response vehicle;
To obtain a telephone number or name to enter in an electronic device to make or receive a telephone call; and
When using hands-free or voice-operated technology.
If Vehle’s bill makes it through the Senate, the bill’s lead sponsor in the House is Rep. Charlie Hoffman, R-Eureka.
A violation of the ban would be a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.
A key piece in the bill seeks to prohibit cities from passing local ordinances that vary from the legislation.
Two other anti-texting bills that are more limited in scope were filed earlier in the session.
One would prohibit drivers younger than age 18 from texting while behind the wheel. SB 106 hasn’t received a hearing yet.
The other would revoke the commercial driver license of a driver caught texting while operating a commercial vehicle in violation of a local, state or federal texting ban. SB 44 was scheduled for a hearing Jan. 16 but was deferred to an unspecified later date.
Vehle said South Dakota motorists gradually changed their thinking about drinking and driving and about seat belts through the years. He said he hopes the texting ban can help achieve a similar result.
“We need to get people thinking that texting while driving is not safe,” Vehle said.
The legislation’s Senate cosponsors include Jim Bradford, D-Pine Ridge; Jason Frerichs, D-Wilmot; Mark Johnston, R-Sioux Falls; Tom Jones, D-Viborg; Dan Lederman, R-Dakota Dunes; Larry Lucas, D-Mission; Deb Soholt, R-Sioux Falls; Billie Sutton, D-Burke; Larry Tidemann, R-Brookings; Craig Tieszen, R-Rapid City; and Jim White, R-Huron.
House co-sponsors include Jim Bolin, R-Canton; Lance Carson, R-Mitchell; Kristin Conzet, R-Rapid City; Peggy Gibson, D-Huron; Spencer Hawley, D-Brookings; Troy Heinert, D-Mission; Bernie Hunhoff, D-Yankton; Patrick Kirschman, D-Sioux Falls; Melissa Magstadt, R-Watertown; Scott Parsley, D-Madison; Ray Ring, D-Vermillion; Tona Rozum, R-Mitchell; Karen Soli, D-Sioux Falls; and Kathy Tyler, D-Big Stone City.