Some South Dakota Lawmakers Want A Tougher And Broader Texting Ban

KELO Texting and Driving

Some state lawmakers hope to toughen the penalty for texting while driving in South Dakota.

They also want to broaden the ban to cover watching or shooting videos, playing games and taking photos.

A violation would become a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in county jail and a $500 fine.

The Legislature banned texting in 2014 but designated it a petty offense with a $100 fine. Prime sponsor of the 2014 ban was then-House Speaker Brian Gosch, a Rapid City Republican.

Prime sponsor of House Bill 1088 this year is Republican Representative Doug Barthel of Sioux Falls. He is a retired police chief for the city.

The measure was formally introduced Friday in the House. A hearing date hasn’t been set.

“What we have right now is there in spirit, and that’s about it,” Barthel said.

Some cities have adopted local ordinances stronger than state law.

Barthel said motorists traveling through those communities often don’t know whether there’s a local regulation.

“This would just make it uniform across the state,” Barthel said.

Barthel said a third difference is his bill would make a violation a primary offense. That means a driver could be stopped for it. The current law says it is a secondary offense, meaning the motorist must have been first pulled over for another violation.

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