SD Senate OKs ban on handheld device use by teen driversPIERRE — Teenage motorists with less experience behind the wheel should be prohibited from using handheld communication devices such as cell phones and smart phones while driving in South Dakota, the state Senate decided Wednesday.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
PIERRE — Teenage motorists with less experience behind the wheel should be prohibited from using handheld communication devices such as cell phones and smart phones while driving in South Dakota, the state Senate decided Wednesday.
The 23-10 vote was the final legislative approval for the ban. The measure, SB 106, now goes to the governor for his decision. It would apply to drivers younger than age 18 who have instruction permits or restricted minor’s permits. Teens in the age 16 to 18 bracket who hold a full operator’s permit wouldn’t be affected.
Sen. Mike Vehle, R-Mitchell, said the ban was one of four recommendations from the teen driving task force created by the Legislature last year. It is the only one to pass both chambers.
The House of Representatives decided that illegal use of a handheld device should be a secondary offense.
That means the driver could be pulled over only for reasons other than using the device.
The Senate had previously approved the ban as a primary offense so that law enforcement officers could stop a driver who was seen to be in violation.
“So they’d have to be speeding and texting or speeding and using their cell phones,” Sen. Larry Lucas, D-Mission, said.
Lucas said he’s disappointed the general ban on texting while driving failed. He asked that the bill be sent to a conference committee to see if it can be restored as a primary offense. Sen. Craig Tieszen, R-Rapid City, said “it’s not fruitful for us to go back to the House.” He said it sends a message. “This is a small, baby step,” Tieszen said. Vehle said he preferred a primary offense but was willing to accept the House version. “What better time to do it, when you’re learning how to drive, that you put that cell phone away,” he said.More from around the web