South Dakota Bill Would Bar Using Mobile Device While Driving

February 5, 2019

People would be mostly barred from using mobile devices while driving under proposed legislation in South Dakota.

Under House Bill 1088, which was scheduled to be considered by the House Transportation Committee on Feb. 5, texting, browsing Facebook and sending an email while on the road would be a misdemeanor. Using a navigation app, making a telephone call or operating in hands-free mode and using a device during an emergency would be allowed.

Under current law, drivers can’t text or email when operating a vehicle, but they have to be pulled over for a different violation for it to be enforced. The new bill would increase the penalty and make it a primary offense, which means motorists buried in their phones could be stopped for it.

Republican Rep. Doug Barthel, the sponsor, said he brought the measure for the safety of people on the road. The measure would serve as a good deterrent, he said.

“What’s in the books right now, it’s good in spirit, but the reality is, it’s very difficult to enforce and most people know that,” said Barthel, a former Sioux Falls police chief.

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