A law banning texting while driving in South Dakota will take effect July 1. Enforced as a secondary offense, the new law will prohibit drivers from using a handheld electronics device to write, send or read text-based communications while the vehicle is in motion.
Because the texting ban is classified as a "secondary" law, an officer will be able to issue a ticket for an offense only if the driver has been pulled over for violating another law -- one that's classified as "primary" -- such as a speed limit.
The new law, which carries a $100 fine for a violation, includes exceptions for contacting emergency services, making phone calls and using hands-free technology.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed the bill (HB 1177) into law on March 28, making South Dakota the 43rd state to prohibit texting behind the wheel for drivers of all ages.
“Texting while driving is dangerous,” said Daugaard. “It is my hope that by prohibiting this practice, we will remind South Dakotans and all those who use our roads to keep their eyes on the road, not on their phones.”
Passage of the law drew praise this week from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
"We commend Governor Daugaard and the South Dakota Legislature for taking an important step to combat distracted driving," said Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.
This state law won't supersede city ordinances that have stricter bans on texting behind the wheel. Rapid City is now considering an ordinance making texting while driving a primary offense.