PIERRE, S.D. – A new law making it illegal for young drivers to use a cell phone while driving takes effect on Monday, July 1, South Dakota Department of Public Safety officials remind citizens.
The law, passed by the 2013 Legislature, prohibits anyone who holds a learner’s permit or a restricted minor’s permit from using any handheld communication device while driving. Generally, such permits are issued to persons between the ages of 14 and 18.
“Young people still gaining experience with driving really need to avoid any distractions,’’ said Jenna Howell, director of Legal and Regulatory Services for Public Safety. “Driving is a full-time responsibility for all of us. That is especially true for our younger drivers who are still trying to get comfortable behind the wheel of a vehicle. The law emphasizes the need to pay attention to the road.’’
A learner or instruction permit allows the holder to drive between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. if accompanied by a person who has a valid driver license, is at least 18 years old and has at least one year of driving experience. That person must occupy a seat beside the young driver.
A restricted minor’s permit allows the holder to drive between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. with permission of a parent or guardian. The holder of a restricted minor’s permit may drive between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. if the parent or guardian is in a seat next to the driver.
The Legislature directed that the new law be enforced as a secondary offense, meaning a young driver would have to be stopped for another offense before a ticket could be issued for driving while using a handheld communications device.