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Texting Ban Likely In Huron

November 27, 2012, 6:29 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Texting Ban Likely In Huron
HURON, SD -

It looks like another city will be joining Sioux Falls in a texting while driving ban.

After weeks of hashing out and tweaking it, the Huron City Council has passed a distracted driving ordinance that includes a texting ban.

Council members passed the ordinance in its first reading Monday so it still needs to pass another council vote. But at this point, it looks like that will happen.

The Huron ordinance, if it becomes law, bans texting behind the wheel if the vehicle's moving. Glenda Palmquist isn't sure a law is necessary but is OK with those guidelines if one passes.

"Well, I think that people shouldn't be texting while driving. I don't see that there's a problem if you're sitting at a stop sign," Palmquist said.

As the ordinance reads now, it would dish out a $160 punishment to violators when you combine a fine and court costs.

Even though the ordinance still needs to pass a second reading before becoming law, it doesn't look like there are too many road blocks in its way.

City leaders say they've received very few complaints about the texting ban and council members passed it unanimously in its first reading.

"So I believe we'll have the second reading next week and it'll pass and it takes about a month to go through the publication process before it's law," Mayor Dave McGirr said.

The law would also allow officers to ticket drivers for other distractions if those distractions cause them to drive unsafe. Violators would pay $75.

Before throwing support behind that portion of the law, Palmquist wants to know what all could qualify as a distraction.

"You have to be reasonable and just," Palmquist said.

She wonders if a mother could get a ticket for dealing with a crying child in the car. The chief of police says that could be a violation of the law if she drives while dealing with the child rather than pulling over.

He defends that stance and law in his city, saying he's witnessed a crash caused by a similar circumstance where a mother rolled a vehicle and multiple children were ejected.

Other portions of the ordinance discussed in Huron in recent weeks also passed. Drivers with a learner's permit or bus drivers with kids on board can't use phones behind the wheel at all.

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