Cell phone driving bill goes into effect July 1

Published: Jun. 22, 2020 at 6:12 PM CDT
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On July 1, driving laws will be changing in South Dakota. It's because of House Bill 1169, which passed earlier this year in an effort to address distracted driving.​ This new bill aims to keep the driver's eyes on the road and off of their phones. It makes "distracted driving" a primary offense meaning an officer can pull you over if you're distracted by your cell phone.

Phone calls can still be made over a hands-free device or by holding the phone up to the ear. However, police encourage people to go hands-free.

“Using the Bluetooth wireless within their vehicles. If they don't have that and they use headphones we recommend just keeping one headphone in with the microphone,” said Lt. Jon Thum of the Sioux Falls Police Dept.

However, the bill does ban all social media use behind the wheel. It would be illegal to access, read, or post anything on your phone while driving.

“Everyone’s seen many people glued to their phone and either miss the light changing colors or other distractive driving. The state legislature was trying to alleviate some of those distractions,” said Lt. Thum.

There are exceptions, such as using the phone for emergency purposes, using a navigation app, or reading or entering a phone number.​

Police say they understand it's going to be a transition for people.

“We are putting some educational material together. We'll use this as an opportunity to educate the public and at first, we really want to focus more on education as opposed to enforcement,” said Lt. Thum.

He says the main goal is to help make the roads safer. This is a ticketable offense that would be a class 2 misdemeanor.