Rapid City Council supports city-wide texting ban but questions - KOTA Territory News

Rapid City Council supports city-wide texting ban but questions enforcement

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The Rapid City Council unanimously voted on Monday night to accept the city-wide ordinance banning texting behind the wheel.

The ordinance complies with the recently passed state ordinance making texting while driving against the law. Except, the city-wide ordinance makes it a primary offense, meaning you could be pulled over simply for texting.

Ward One councilman Bill Clayton questioned how the law can be enforced. "I just wonder if a patrol officer were in his car somewhere in the vicinity of mine, and I were in fact placing a call, which I understand would be legal, how in the world would somebody be able to tell if I was making a short text or placing a phone call," said Clayton. 

In response, Rapid City Police Chief Steve Allender admitted that the wording of the ban is complex but officers will simply target extreme uses, like using double thumbs or diverting eyes for a long period.

"Part of the plan that we will be working on is starting this month is how to discern between a phone call and other uses of the mobile device," said Allender. 

The state-wide law takes effect July 1st. Rapid City's ordinance could be on the books as May, six weeks prior to state law. Allender said officers will use that time to conduct a public awareness campaign by stopping cars that are in violation but only issuing warning tickets

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