South Dakota ban on texting while driving starts July 1

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SIOUX FALLS (AP) – Drivers in South Dakota who use their cell phones for texting, social media and other purposes can be pulled over and ticketed purely for those offenses starting Wednesday.

A new state law taking effect July 1 makes it a Class 2 misdemeanor to use a cell phone while driving except in an emergency or to use a GPS app or to read or enter a phone number. Drivers who talk on the phone will need to either use a hands-free mode or hold the phone up to their ear. The offense carries a $122.50 fine. 

Texting and driving already was a secondary offense in South Dakota, meaning a driver had to be pulled over for another reason to be ticketed. But the new law makes it a primary offense, meaning drivers can be pulled over for only using a cell phone.

The new law also expands banned cellphone uses while driving to include taking photos, using the internet, posting to social media, reading emails and using phone apps.

According to the state Department of Public Safety, there were 827 crashes in South Dakota last year where distracted driving with cell phones and other electronic devices was a contributing factor.

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