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SDPB Radio Coverage of the South Dakota Legislature. See all coverage and find links to audio and video streams live from the Capitol at www.sdpb.org/statehouse

House Passes Legislation Limiting Cell Phone Use for Novice Drivers

State lawmakers are attempting to keep teens aged 14 to 15 with an instruction driver’s permit from texting while driving. Senate Bill 106 was reconsidered in the House of Representatives Monday after failing to pass last week. The proposed bill prohibits novice drivers from using wireless communication while driving on public highways. Representative Stace Nelson proposed an amendment to the bill that also prohibits holders of instruction permits from bad behaviors such as premarital sex, staying out past parental curfews, and consuming illegal drugs. While some representatives criticized Nelson for proposing a humorous amendment and offending members, Nelson says these behaviors also put teens at risk.

“I argue today that these issues listed here while they definitely point out the hypocrisy in this bill and the fact that it is unenforceable and that it actually raises accident rates, these are none the less important issues. If I’ve offended, I’ve offended erring on the side of our youth, not only our youth but other drivers out there on the road that are going to be stopped because somebody saw them with something in their hand and they may look like they’re 14 years of age. People don’t need to be stopped and have their constitutional rights violated because of a law that’s unenforceable, while maybe good intentioned, but we want to change the culture. Well, I want to change the culture on even more important issues,” Nelson says.
 
Nelson’s amendment failed to pass with only two affirmative votes. Supporters of the unamended bill say it’s a deterrent law like seatbelts and it’s important to start the mindset that texting while driving isn’t appropriate. Members of the House passed Senate Bill 106 43-23.