Sioux Falls Texting Ban Ordinance – FAQ

Sioux Falls Texting Ban

Did you know it there has been a Sioux Falls texting while driving ban since 2012? Did you know it could cost you up to $200 if caught? Here is everything you need to know about the city ordinance on texting while driving.

What does the law do?
Beginning Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, Sioux Falls City Ordinance will prohibit drivers from texting, emailing, instant messaging, and surfing the Internet while their vehicle is a part of traffic within the city limits of Sioux Falls.

Am I allowed to text, email, instant message, or surf the Internet at a traffic light or stop sign?
The ordinance prohibits doing any of these activities while a “part of traffic,” which does include stopping at a stop light or stop sign.

What is the fine for violating this law?
Violation of this ordinance is punishable with a $95 fine or, if found guilty by a judge in court, a maximum of 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $200.

May a police officer pull over a driver suspectedof violating this ordinance or does an officer need to witness another violation?
Violation of this ordinance is considered a primary offense, which means that a police officer may pull over a driver suspected of texting, emailing, instant messaging and surfing the Internet.

Am I prohibited from using my GPS unit or using my cell phone to make calls while driving?
The ordinance does not prohibit the use of a GPS unit or making a cell phone call.


Section 40-1. Definitions.

Electronic communication device means wireless or cellular phones, PDAs, BlackBerries, smartphones, MP3 players, laptop or notebook computers utilizing VoIP (Voice-over Internet Protocol) technology, wireless and cellular phones utilizing push-to-talk technology, and any other mobile communication device that uses shortwave analog or digital radio transmission between the device and a transmitter to permit wireless communications to and from the user of the device.

Electronic message means 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, a command or request to access a World Wide Web page, or other data that uses a commonly recognized electronic communications protocol. An electronic message does not include the use of global positioning or navigation systems or voice or other data transmitted as a result of making a phone call or data transmitted automatically by a wireless communication device without direct initiation by a person.

Section 40-236. Prohibition on use of electronic message.

(a) No person may operate or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while using a handheld electronic communication device to compose, read, or send an electronic message when the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic.

Section 40-237. Exceptions on use of electronic communication devices and electronic message.

Section 40-236 shall not apply if the electronic communication device is being used:

(a) In the reasonable belief that a person’s life or safety is in immediate danger; or
(b) In an emergency vehicle while in the performance of official duties.

Source: City of Sioux Falls