Is It Legal to Look at Your Phone at a Stoplight in South Dakota?
Smartphones, almost every person has one these days, and almost everyone who does, have them hardwired to their person seemingly 24/7.
Most of us, can't seem to function in life without our phone by our side. Is it out of necessity to stay connected, or just because we have a tendency to get bored so quickly?
To be honest, probably a little of both.
With everyone so reliant on their smart device, a person needs to be careful, because that phone could end up costing you dearly in more ways than one if you're not careful.
If you live in South Dakota, hopefully, by now, you're familiar with the new distracted-while-driving laws that went into effect over three years ago.
As of July 1st, 2020, South Dakota started to put the smackdown on using cell phones while behind the wheel. House Bill 1169 clearly states South Dakota drivers are no longer allowed to access their smart devices while driving for any reason.
That means NO texting! NO scrolling through emails! NO picture-taking! NO web-browsing! NO nothing that requires you to use your hands to utilize a phone while driving.
Okay, that's easy enough to understand. No phone usage while driving. But what happens if your driving has come to a complete stop? Let's say you're stopped in traffic at a stoplight, or waiting for a train to pass by, can you pull out your phone and take a quick peek at your email, a text, or Facebook then?
The correct answer is once again, NO!
According to the website NorthernPlainsJustice, under South Dakota's new Distracted, While Driving law, drivers can be stopped by police and charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor just for holding or handling a cell phone. This can carry up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
There are a few exceptions, however:
- Using a cell phone for emergency purposes or to call 911
- Using a GPS navigation system
- Making or receiving phone calls
- Using a cellphone that is connected to a hands-free device or is voice-activated
Outside of those 4 reasons, the way the law is written now, every South Dakota driver must be parked in a legitimate parking spot with their car in "park" to use their cell phones.
Research in 2018 showed that distracted driving was responsible for 2,841 traffic fatalities and nearly 400,000 injuries across the country that year alone.
So, if you plan on driving here in South Dakota, please plan on putting down your phone. The life you save could be the life of someone you love, or maybe your own.
Source: Northern Plains Justice