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Police Think About Enforcement For Texting Ban

September 5, 2012, 5:57 PM by Brady Mallory

Police Think About Enforcement For Texting Ban
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

Texting and driving will soon be a primary offense. It means officers can pull you over, and your fine could be up to $200.  The new law bans composing and sending an electronic message on several electronic devices, including but not limited to cell phones, smart phones, PDAs and laptops.

This issue has been talked about everywhere, in every way, shape and form.  Instant messaging can be an immediate headache, especially for the drivers who are paying attention to the road.

"(I was) Driving to pick some friends up and somebody came into my lane and hit me straight on," Sarah Wiffels said.

Now that the ban is more than just an idea, the soon-to-be city law now goes in the hands of police officers.

"When somebody is pulled over, to say they even have their phone (will be hard).  They'll (police) search the car or something.  It'll just be hard to enforce," Wiffels said.

Sioux Falls Police Public Information Officer Sam Clemens was pretty honest.

"I don't know if we necessarily have a plan yet, since it was just passed last night," Clemens said.

The ban is only a day old, and police have a lot to think about.  Asking questions about how to enforce this type of law are not new, but now must finally be answered.  Some clues will help.

"It's probably going to depend on what you were doing, like what kind of driving you had.  What kind of, if you were swerving around, if you almost hit somebody or another car," Clemens said.

Using your phone to talk to someone is still ok.  An amendment removed GPS units from the plan. It also clarified the ordinance to include only handheld devices in the ban.  Clemens said it will be up to the officer how far he or she will go to see who is texting and who is not.  It will be tricky, but some people are glad there is at least a ban in the books.

"Both my kids know we don't approve of it, and if they are caught doing it, they won't be able to drive," Cheryl Beck said.

Beck said this could help deter at least a few people, and she also has another reason to point to for keeping her kids off the phone in the car.

As for Wiffels, she thinks it might not be up to just the police to keep people from texting and driving.  As she witnessed, some drivers will just have to learn the hard way.

"Being somebody that's been hit by somebody, it bothers me when other people do it.  So, I try not to do it," Wiffels said.

The ban goes into effect on September 28.

Click on the play button below to watch an exchange about enforcement between Police Chief Doug Barthel and City Council Member Greg Jamison from Tuesday evening's meeting.

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