New SD distracted driving law will go into effect July 1st

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Starting July 1st, South Dakotans will have to reconsider how they use their phone behind the wheel.

The current distracted driving law just states no driver may use an electronic to write, read or send text messages. The violation of that law is only a petty offense, but under the new law you might want to make sure your phone stays out of your hand while in traffic.

In a matter of days, a new law will make it illegal to drive while using a smartphone. If police see you doing it, they can pull you over and charge you with a misdemeanor.

“The only way you’re able to legally be on your phone is if you’re in a parking spot. So, if it’s a legitimate parking spot. Stopped in traffic doesn’t count, stopped for a train doesn’t count. If you’re on a parking spot and your car is in park, then you’re able to get on your phone. But outside of that, if you’re in traffic, in a driving lane, you’re not permitted to be on your phone at all,” Sam Clemens, with Sioux Falls Police said.

There are some exceptions to the law, though, including using your cell phone for emergency purposes, such as dialing 911 or calling a health care provider. You can also use navigation systems on the phone and make or receive phone calls. Plus you can use hands-free or voice-operated modes on your devices.

“Most vehicles now have hands-free, so I think that should be utilized more. Texting can wait,” driver Jeremy Zimmerman said.

The new law also makes it illegal for you to check your social media or send a text.

“I think text messaging and stuff like that does need to get cracked down on because I do know there are some absent-minded drivers out there, especially when they do have their phone in their hand and they’re not paying attention to the road. It can cause a lot of unnecessary accidents and other things that need to happen so I think it’s something that should get put in place,” driver Sadie Hagemeyer said.

You won’t be allowed to be on your phone at red lights or traffic signs.

Clemens says the city does already have an ordinance in place that is similar to the new law, but he is glad it will now be a state law as well.

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