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New Attempt To Ban Texting Behind The Wheel In SD

March 12, 2014, 6:01 PM by Brady Mallory

New Attempt To Ban Texting Behind The Wheel In SD

South Dakota lawmakers are trying once again to pass a measure banning texting while driving before the main run of this year's legislative session ends Friday. 

A bill was seemingly dead after House and Senate leaders could not agree on it, but the House and Senate have appointed new members to the negotiating committee.  Rep. Charlie Hoffman of Eureka said a compromise would make texting while driving a secondary offense, meaning law officers could issue tickets for the offense only after first stopping drivers for other traffic violations. Hoffman said the penalty would start at $100 but increase for repeat offenses.  Debate over what type of ban, statewide or local control, continues in South Dakota.

"Occasionally, you've had to slam on the brakes, just because the person didn't realize - maybe they were texting at a stoplight because they were stopped," Peder Aadahl said.

Close calls like that are exactly why Aadahl wants to see awareness about the dangers of texting while driving move forward.  But Aadahl thinks city bans are a better solution.

"To a certain extent, I do like the thought of some cities being able to have their say in it," Aadahl said.

Supporters of individual city bans believe they are easier to enforce.  A few cities come up with their own laws.  So far, police departments have given out 31 tickets in Sioux Falls, seven in Mitchell, five in Aberdeen, four in Watertown and just two in Brookings.  Huron and Pennington County also have local bans.  However, some feel that is not enough.

"I think state's better because it's all across the state.  You don't have people -- you don't have to think about other towns and what laws they have and everything.  If it's a state thing, you have one law set for every single city and every person who lives there," Joshua Maher said.

"It's mainly our generation.  It's mostly younger people that you see on the phones, texting and doing that," Gavin Nelson said.

Negotiators will meet on Thursday.

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