Do I think people should be texting and driving? No. If you participate in texting and driving, please, stop. It’s stupid and dangerous, and believe it or not, you could harm or kill yourself if not someone else. Yes, it is that serious. In fact some studies have proven that texting and driving is more dangerous then drinking and driving. That being said, I commend this local group for advocating a ban, but their approach worries me a bit;

Coordinator Rich Lauer said Sioux Falls has an opportunity under home rule to regulate distracted driving, and it’s the city’s obligation to do something to reduce the threat to public safety. He also said it has been proven that majority of people stop whatever behavior it is a law prohibits, which is what he thinks would be the case with a texting while driving ban.

The group’s proposal calls for prohibiting texting while driving anywhere in city limits, with no exceptions. The other piece of the proposal would forbid the use of any handheld electronic device while driving in a school zone when children are present, with exceptions for law enforcement, fire rescue, and EMT personnel on official business.

So what part of this proposal worries me? The US Constitution and the State Constitution trump ANY city ordinance. The Home Rule charter has been challenged twice in recent years and has been found to be unconstitutional (Daily vs. SF and the Red Light Camera suit). I’m afraid that if Sioux Falls implements this ‘ordinance’ there will be court challenges. Sure, like mentioned in the video, just like code enforcement, most people will comply, and heck, why shouldn’t they? Like I said above, texting and driving is stupid, and you shouldn’t be doing it anyway, but hey, I still know people who don’t wear their seat belts.

Coordinator Rich Lauer says he was ‘disappointed’ the state did not pass a ban. I agree, so do the right thing. I think this group’s time would be better spent trying to change state law, in fact I encourage them to make it a ballot issue and put it on the November ballot, but please, don’t open the city up to more constitutional lawsuits, we have an Events Center we have to pay for, extra money for attorneys is sparse.

(Their proposal will be made at the public services committee meeting today)

14 Thoughts on “Group proposes banning texting in Sioux Falls, but do they have the law on their side?

  1. Anooner on May 8, 2012 at 7:08 am said:

    In what way do you think a ban might be unconstitutional?

  2. testor15 on May 8, 2012 at 8:08 am said:

    Doesn’t this “Sioux Falls has an opportunity under home rule to regulate distracted driving” ring a bell with the Daily decision?

    How many times will Sioux Falls government do the ‘right’ thing and find the way they do illegally?

    Don’t confuse Sioux Falls Home Rule Charter with being being constitutional.

  3. Not sure if it is or not, but these two cases prove that city ordinance doesn’t always stand up in court. What I find peculiar is that with all these organizations behind it, why not just put it on the ballot statewide? It would pass. It reminds me of the time the council considered a smoking ban only in the city of SF. That was a bad idea.

  4. Craig on May 8, 2012 at 9:15 am said:

    The difficult thing here is enforcement. Can a police officer really tell someone was texting from 50 feet away? The person simply has to claim they were dialing a number, and there is no way to really know for sure.

    I’d prefer a state law, and it should require hands free operation. Thus if you want to use a phone, you need a headset or bluetooth device – and if you are caught operating your phone with your hands, then you could be cited.

    Then again the data on this issue seems to be contradictory which is why we don’t have a nationwide ban yet. The reality is if someone does something stupid they can already be cited for reckless driving, so adding another layer of laws on the books might not be the best solution.

  5. Pathloss on May 8, 2012 at 11:26 am said:

    City civil procedures are not recognized by the courts. Whatever their ordinance, it can’t be enforced wih fine collections or liens. They must allow appeals into court. Meanwhile, they’re the small dog you ignore and kick away. Our small mayor barks and scratches but there’s no bite. It’s the worst kind of coward.

  6. I’m always worried about unwarranted search and seizures. Making texting an illegal activity worthy of pulling a car over empowers the cops to harass anybody they desire. You don’t believe local authorities will take advantage of this? Trust me, they will.

  7. According to the photo, they only want to target texting and driving in the passenger seat. Scott, follow Chris Rocks rule and don’t let people in you car with warrants and don’t let your chick tell the cops you got your weed with you. If you do those, you deserve to be harassed

  8. l3wis on May 8, 2012 at 5:02 pm said:

    “The reality is if someone does something stupid they can already be cited for reckless driving”

    Bam! That was the exact same thing I was thinking last night after posting this. If a cop is following you while you are driving erratically and he notices you talking or texting on a cellphone, he has the legal right to cite you for reckless driving. Why are we so ‘law happy’?

  9. Lemming on May 8, 2012 at 10:20 pm said:

    We dont need another law on something thats already covered. Rich needs to find a new hobby

  10. DDCSD on May 8, 2012 at 10:59 pm said:

    Texting bans are impossible to enforce. Unless you want the police strip searching 16 year olds looking for cell phones, the only people that are going to get cited for it are the ones honest (or stupid) enough to admit to doing it.

    It’s already illegal to drive dangerously and erratically, just enforce the laws that are already on the books.

  11. Alice15 on May 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm said:

    I have no problem with someone being pulled over if a cop sees them texting while they are driving. Seriously idiotic people – noone or no thing is important enough for you to put your head down and use both hands to text while you are driving. If you’re going to be that stupid – you should get pulled over. The other day I saw a guy driving a dump truck for a construction company here in town and he was texting. Are you frickin’ kidding me? In one instant that dump truck is more over powering that anything on the road. I am tired of watching it, I am tired of driving behind people doing it, and if people weren’t so wrapped up in thinking they were so important enough to risk their driving skills to write something stupid like “LMAO, and Git R Done,” we wouldn’t have to worry about it. Pull the hell over if you’re really that important!

  12. testor15 on May 9, 2012 at 2:55 pm said:

    I get the name and number off truck and call their boss or police. I do it often, jerk that I am…

  13. l3wis on May 10, 2012 at 12:14 pm said:

    Finally watched the Public Services meeting on this topic:

    I found this comment by Rich interesting “Not sure why the legislature didn’t pass this ban.” Ah, well, why doesn’t your group start a petition drive and sidestep the city and legislature. Let voters decide, not an inept city council or mentally challenged state legislature.

    Then Vern went on a rant about how a legislator tried to stop the redlight cameras in SF when they were introduced. Gee, Vern, who was in the right on that one? The city or the legislator? The city LOST their suit, and now the cameras are shut off. You looked like a complete fool making that statement. I agree with you about local control when it comes to taxation, etc. But not foolish ordinances that are already covered by state law (reckless driving).

  14. Pingback: Text Ban in SF, the city council will just not let it go — South DaCola

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