Ban on using cellphones while driving among new laws on Wednesday
Lisa Kaczke and Danielle Ferguson Sioux Falls Argus Leader
Jun 28, 2020
A new cellphone law goes into effect in the state Wednesday. Courtesy photo
Law enforcement will soon be able to pull over and ticket drivers in South Dakota for the sole reason of using their cellphone while driving.
A new state law will go into effect on Wednesday making it a Class 2 misdemeanor to use a cellphone except for emergency purposes, using a GPS app, or reading or entering a phone number. Talking on the phone will need to be done in either a hands-free mode or by holding the phone up to the ear. The offense will carry a $122.50 fine.
Some cities such as Sioux Falls already have an ordinance prohibiting texting while driving, and texting and driving already was a secondary offense in South Dakota, meaning a driver had to be pulled over for another reason in order to be ticketed. But the new state law expands banned uses to include taking photos, using the internet, posting to social media, reading emails and using phone apps, and makes it a primary offense, meaning drivers can be pulled over for only using a cellphone.
"The goal was not to create a law where you can write a bunch of tickets and come across with a heavy hand of enforcement. It was about trying to change behaviors and hopefully save some lives and injuries as well," said the law's sponsor, Rep. Doug Barthel, R-Sioux Falls.
There were 827 crashes in South Dakota last year where distracted driving with cellphones and other electronic devices was a contributing circumstance, according to the Department of Public Safety.
Barthel, the former Sioux Falls police chief, said it took a lot of work to get to this point and "it's great to see that we're approaching the finish line." The Legislature initially rejected the law in 2019 and this year's bill included the compromise that drivers can either hold the phone up to their ear or in a hands-free mode. He also received help from Sen. Deb Soholt, R-Sioux Falls, who advocated for the bill's passage in the Senate, he said.
There was concern that this law would be "a foot in the door" and lawmakers would restrict cellphone use further in future legislative sessions, but Barthel said he doesn't plan to bring legislation to do so.
Barthel wasn't planning to introduce the bill this year after last year's defeat, but he got a phone call last year from Castlewood residents Jeff and Lesa Dahl, whose 19-year-old son Jacob Dahl was killed when he rear ended a truck while taking photos with his phone on his way home from Northern University in 2014.
"After hearing their story, it was tough for me to say no," Barthel said.
Hundreds of ideas for laws were either approved or defeated during the Legislature's nine-week session in Pierre this year.
Other laws going into effect this year that affect South Dakotans:
More driving laws
It'll also become a Class 2 misdemeanor to disrupt a funeral procession with a vehicle that isn't part of the procession. That includes joining the procession to get the right-of-way, passing the procession on any two-lane highway or roadway, passing the procession on the left on any highway with two or more lanes traveling in the same direction, or entering an intersection where a procession is proceeding through a red light unless the driver can do so without crossing the procession's path.
The new state law legalizing hemp and CBD in South Dakota went into effect immediately in March, but South Dakota farmers had to wait before they could start planting hemp.
The South Dakota Department of Agriculture began working to create its industrial hemp program to regulate hemp growing and processing in the state as soon as it was signed into law, according to department spokeswoman JaCee Aaseth.
The SDDA has been drafting administrative rules regulating the program, writing the state plan to submit to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for approval, hiring staff to administer the program and establishing the processes, forms and databases needed to regulate the program, according to Aaseth.
"While COVID-19 has presented some challenges, we have been able to move forward as planned," Aaseth said.
The SDDA was allocated $36,586 in general funds in the 2020 budget to work on the hemp program and that has been sufficient funding to cover the preliminary costs until July 1, when the 2021 budget begins, according to Aaseth.
"We anticipate that the program will be fully implemented in the fall, at which time processors and growers can obtain licenses from the SDDA," Aaseth said.
The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Flandreau Santee Sioux, Oglala Sioux Tribes, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have all had their hemp programs approved by the USDA. The Yankton Sioux Tribe is in the process of drafting a plan for the USDA's review, according to the federal agency.
South Dakotans without a driver's license can use a non-driver's license identification number to register to vote beginning July 1.
An effort was defeated during the legislative session to allow tribal IDs to be used to register to vote, but tribal IDs can still be used as a photo ID on Election Day.
Victims in rental units
Victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault and stalking can't be penalized for terminating their lease early under a new state law.
Beginning July 1, a tenant may terminate his or her lease and vacate the rental unit without penalty for early termination if the tenant or a member of the tenant's household is the victim of alleged domestic abuse, unlawful sexual behavior or stalking.
The tenant must notify the landlord in writing that the termination is due to the tenant's fear of imminent danger or injury to the tenant or member of the tenant's household. The tenant needs to provide with that notice one of the following: a police report regarding an alleged incident of domestic abuse, unlawful sexual behavior or stalking during the previous 30 days; a protection order issued during the previous 30 days; or documentation signed by a health care provider stating that the provider examined the person within the previous 30 days and has reasonable cause to believe the person was a victim of domestic abuse, unlawful sexual behavior or stalking.
Additionally, the landlord can't disclose a forwarding address or other contact information provided by the tenant to anyone without the consent of the tenant.
Interns will be given the same legal protections under state law as employees against unfair and discriminatory practices in the workplace beginning July 1.
Tribal identification cards can be used as a valid form of identification in all businesses in South Dakota, including when a person's age needs to be verified, beginning July 1.
Those accused of human trafficking a minor will no longer be able to say the minor's guardian consented to the act or they didn't know the victim's true age as defenses to the charge beginning July 1.
Prior out-of-state stalking charges
This change was prompted by a Sioux Falls case in which a man convicted of stalking in another state was accused of stalking the mayor. This law makes it so any conviction or guilty plea to stalking in another state could constitute a higher penalty if the same charge is committed here. DUIs and assault convictions from other states, and stalking or harassment convictions from in-state, were already qualified for the charge enhancement.
Sexual assault kits
A new state law increases the amount of time sexual assault testing kits are kept before they are destroyed. Sometimes victims complete the kit, but do not want a criminal case brought right away. Under the new law, the health care facility that performs the test must inform the victim that the sexual assault kit will be preserved by law enforcement for at least seven years – up from one year - from the date of the examination or treatment or until the victim reaches the age of 25, whichever is later, before it is destroyed.
Dismissal of certain controlled substance charges for pregnant women
Certain controlled substances offenses shall be dropped for a woman who is pregnant if she: receives adequate prenatal care from a licensed health care professional during her pregnancy; enrolls in an addiction recovery program before the child is born, remains in the program after the birth and completes the addiction recovery program.
Needy family benefits
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, benefits can no longer be denied to someone solely because they have a felony conviction for possession, use or distribution of a controlled substance.
Juvenile law currently requires that the courts place the child in the least restrictive settings available “in keeping with the best interests of the child.” A child may be sentenced to the Department of Corrections if: no viable alternative exists; the DOC is the least restrictive alternative or the child is charged with a crime of violence or sex offense.
The law also says a judge must determine that the child presents a “significant risk of physical harm to another person.” A new bill adds an “or” to this section.
The law adds the option that the court may commit a child to the Department of Corrections if a judge finds that the child is a high-risk for reoffending based on a risk assessment, if the child has had other previous unsuccessful discharge from probation, if the child has been convicted of intentional damage to property of over $5,000 or the child has been convicted of a drug distribution offense.
Another new law allows the Juvenile Justice Public Safety Oversight Council to continue its work. The council, formed to monitor the changes prompted by a 2015 change in laws around juvenile justice, was set to end its time this year, but requested to continue its work for another three years.
Jail-based, outpatient competency restoration for criminal defendants
This law change adds more options to criminal defendants awaiting a competency restoration. Once a defendant goes through a competency evaluation and is determined that he or she is unable to assist in their defense or properly understand their charges, they must undergo treatment restoration.
Defendants who are deemed as not a danger to the public can now complete outpatient treatment, as opposed to being sent to the only state-run mental health hospital, the Human Services Center in Yankton. This bill also adds state-approved jail-based competency restoration as an option, a move Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead has said will decrease the wait time for defendants to receive the treatment they need and save money on housing and transportation.
Sex offender registry
The charge of felony use or dissemination of a recording or photo without consent will be added to the list of sex offense convictions that are required to register for the sex offender registry. Other charges include rape, felony sexual contact with a minor, sexual contact with a person incapable of consenting, child pornography, kidnapping, felony indecent exposure, bestiality and more.