Starting July 1, it will be illegal to text while driving in South Dakota. House Bill 1169, passed during the 2020 legislative session, prohibits drivers from using a cell phone — or a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant), handheld game console, tablet computer or other mobile electronic devices — to text messages or for other social media uses. The new law allows drivers to hold the phone to their ear to talk, but any data entry other than putting the contact number into the device must be done under a hands-free mode. Violating the new law is a primary offense — meaning a law enforcement officer can stop you if they see you doing it. It is a class 2 misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for the Class 2 misdemeanor is 30 days in jail and a modest fine.
Jeff Dahl of Castlewood was instrumental in helping get the law passed in South Dakota. Jacob Dahl, Jeff’s son, was killed almost six years ago after he ran into the back of a soybean truck on his way back to Castlewood from College in Aberdeen. Jacob was looking at his cellphone at the time of the crash. Jeff told KXLG news that after Jacob was killed, he felt he needed to do something. Since that time Jeff and his wife, Lesa have been on a mission to get South Dakota's law changed. With the help of former Senator Doug Barthel of Sioux Falls, during the last legislative session, Jeff had a chance to testify in Pierre……
Jeff said his it was an emotional experience for him to testify about his son’s crash…..
Although the new law prevents using the cell phone for texting or other social media uses, there are certain things you can still do. The new law still allows: Use of the device to report emergencies to emergency response agencies. GPS or mapping programs can be used, but information cannot be entered into the device while driving; Drivers can select a contact out of the device list to then use in a hands free mode or activate or disengage hands free mode. The law also allows emergency responders to use those features on their phones in the performance of their duties.
Again, the new law goes into effect on July 1st.