As the citizens of Sioux Falls wait for the City Council to discuss the "Texting While Driving Ban," here is a list of what is and is not allowed as the ordinance stands Tuesday morning.
- As of Tuesday morning the ordinance reads: "No person may operate or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while using an electronic communication device to compose, read, or send an electronic message when the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic."
In the ordinance an electronic message is: "a self-contained piece of digital communication that is designed or intended to be transmitted between two physical devices. An electronic message includes, but is not limited to, email, a text message, an instant message, and a command or request to access a World Wide Web page, or other data that uses a commonly recognized electronic communications protocol."
This means an officer can pull over a driver who is reading, composing or sending a text message or trying to access a web page or other data on a cell phone or other electronic device.
The ordinance also states a driver can be ticketed under the ordinance whether the car is in motion or stopped in traffic.
- Furthermore, City Councilor Michelle Erpenbach says it is not a good decision to look through a phone's contact list or peruse an .MP3 player's song list, but Erpenbach says the ordinance does not punish a driver who is conducting those actions.
- The officer does not have to see a driver's cell phone to prove the texting while driving offense happened. The officer can simply write the ticket based on what he or she saw and it is up to the offender to provide phone documents proving whether or not the offense happened at the alleged time.
Erpenbach adds, the officer may not be able to write a ticket under the ordinance for someone looking through their .MP3 player, but an officer can issue a ticket for negligent driving.
Keep in Mind:
- Erpenbach told KSFY's Rachel Gabrielsen Tuesday morning she plans to propose an amendment adding "handheld devices" to the language of the bill. Erpenbach says it will help clear up the confusion she has been hearing.
- Also, there are key words to look at in the ordinance. Erpenbach says the language of the bill goes directly after "texting" and "other data" commonly used with cell phones.
- It will become clearer when the amendment is proposed, but Erpenbach says using applications like Siri to talk a text does not violate the ordinance. However, you might want to think twice about reading any response that you receive.
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