Terry Woster, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, says this morning that South Dakota faces the loss of 5 percent of its federal highway funding if the Legislature doesn’t adopt Senate Bill 13. In a nutshell SB 13 would make use of a hand-held mobile telephone by a driver while behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle “a serious offense.” That would be the same category as excessive speeding, careless or reckless driving, eluding police or a variety of other significant unlawful acts. Holders of commercial driver licenses already can lose their CDL for texting while driving. Using a hand-held mobile telephone now would also be grounds for revocation, suspension or disqualification of a CDL.
The legislation is sponsored for the department by the Senate Transportation Committee, whose chairman is Sen. Mike Vehle, R-Mitchell. Says Woster: “This is the last session to adopt this before the threat of that loss of funds kicks in.” He adds, “SB 13 has no impact on the use of handhelds by non-CDL holding drivers.”