A new law prohibiting phone use behind the wheel took effect in South Dakota on July 1, 2020. Drivers will receive Class 2 misdemeanor charges for violations of the electronic device ban.

If you drive in South Dakota, review the updated laws about distracted driving to avoid a traffic ticket and reduce your risk for a serious auto accident. According to the state Department of Public Safety, device use distraction contributed to 827 South Dakota crashes in 2019.

Primary vs. secondary offense

Before July 1, texting and driving was a secondary offense in South Dakota. Law enforcement could only stop you for using your phone behind the wheel if you also committed another offense, such as speeding or reckless driving. Now, officers can stop and cite you solely for device use, even if you do not commit another offense.

Prohibited device use

While the previous South Dakota law limited prohibited use to texting and driving, the new law has a more expansive definition of distraction. An officer can stop you not only for texting but also for taking photos, using apps, reading emails and posting to social media while driving.

Drivers can still legally have a phone conversation while behind the wheel. However, while you can hold the phone to your ear while speaking, you must use hands-free commands to make or answer the phone call.

The first offense under the new South Dakota law carries a fine of $122.50. The ban does not apply if you are using your phone to report an emergency or in an official capacity as a first responder.