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First reading of texting while driving ban gets city’s approval

Posted: Wednesday, Nov 28th, 2012

HURON — The process will take several more weeks before it becomes law, but the City Commission has taken the first steps to ban texting and driving in Huron.

First reading of the ordinance was passed Monday and second reading is scheduled for next week. After the ordinance is published, there will be a 20-day waiting period until it becomes official.

A grace period is also being planned so the public gets used to the fact that drivers can no longer text and drive in town.

Texting and driving will be a primary offense, meaning law enforcement officers can pull someone over for that violation regardless of any other infractions.

Commissioners also want it to be clear that texting and driving will only be against the law if it’s done while the vehicle is in motion. They want people to pull over in order to send a text.

Receiving and reading a text while driving was removed from the original proposal. Right or wrong, it is human nature to view a text, said city attorney Gerry Kaufman.

Meanwhile, the ordinance also provides that it is a primary offense for school bus drivers to use a mobile telephone or other electronic device, including those with hands-free accessories, while their bus is in motion and carrying passengers. That also goes for those with instruction permits or restricted minor’s permits.

The exceptions in these categories are in cases where a driver calls school officials or 911 to report an emergency.

Also in the proposed ordinance is language making distracted driving a secondary offense if the driver is pulled over for driving dangerously.

When the commission considers second reading next week, it will also adopt a resolution setting out the penalties.

The proposal calls for a $100 fine plus $60 in court costs for those found guilty of texting while driving and for those using electronic devices when driving with an instruction or restrict minor’s permit as well as for school bus drivers with passengers.

The proposed penalty for the secondary distracted driving violation is $75.

The ordinance will not apply to electronic wireless communication devices in police and fire department vehicles or ambulances used during the course of police, fire and ambulance-related duties.

Commissioners also:

• Approved a request from George Bauder and Roger Bauder to withdraw a plat of Bauder Outlots 4-7 that was approved in October as the property has been sold as one parcel.

The buyer wants to place one house on the 20 acres. The original plat was to create four five-acre parcels. The property is two miles south of town on the west side of Highway 37.

• Set Dec. 10 as the bid-opening date for water treatment chemicals.

• Approved an alcoholic beverage consumption request from Brenda Arteman for a Dec. 22 event at the Campus Center.

• Accepted a Homeland Security grant of $6,000 to place a console in the north fire station to house the backup police dispatch radio equipment. The $2,000 balance needed to cover the entire cost of the project will likely come from 911 funds unless other grant money can be secured.

The backup dispatch center is required by the state in order for the city to receive Enhanced 911 funds.

For the complete article see the 11-27-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 11-27-2012 paper.

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