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Mitchell Talks Texting Ban Again

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A statewide texting while driving ban in South Dakota has been defeated by the Legislature and now some cities are thinking about taking matters into their own hands.


City officials in Mitchell have opened up the discussion again about whether to ban texting citywide.


Last year, city officials in Mitchell talked about a texting ban but waited to see if lawmakers in Pierre would enforce a statewide ban during this legislative session.


Since the statewide ban was shut down, in two weeks, a heavy debate will take place during the city council meeting, a debate some residents are looking forward to.


"I know I do it way to much, it's way too much of a distraction," said Paul Kindt, a Mitchell resident.


Paul Kindt has no problem admitting he texts behind the wheel.


"I think everything needs to be done right now, not wait," said Kindt.


Although Kindt thinks a texting while driving ban in Mitchell would help him put his phone down, he’s worried about how police are going to enforce it.


"Who's to say if anyone was texting and driving? Are you going to check their phone, well, is that an invasion of privacy," said Kindt.


Which is a concern for City Councilman Philip Carlson as well.


"I don't favor a texting and driving ban," said Carlson.


Carlson said he doesn't question whether police can enforce a ban, but is worried about just how police will prove a driver was texting behind the wheel.


"Taking the person's phone, confiscating it and doing this phone dump on it, to try to look through the phone through electronic means, to find out if they were texting or not," said Carlson.


Not everyone agrees with Carlson's stance, including the Mayor.


"I would hope that the city will enact some sort of ban," said Mayor Ken Tracy.


Mayor Tracy said the potential ban would serve a purpose, to educate.


"Our purpose is not going to be to go out and issue tickets and try to fine people, we just want to make them aware of the dangers they're putting themselves and others in," said Tracy.


For Kindt, he's relieved this texting while driving ban lies in the hands of the city council.


"I'm glad I'm not faced with those decisions," said Kindt.


Mayor Tracy said feedback he's gotten so far from the community shows frustration and disappointment that this statewide ban did not pass the Legislature.


Mitchell’s City Council will address the proposed texting ban at their next meeting on February 19th.
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