Here's what going on in the City of Box Elder!
The new March 2014 Newsletter is now available under the Documents, Resources and Forms Folder, inside the Community Resources folder.
Please be advised that Ordinance 543: Distracted Driving passed at the February 4th council meeting and will take effect beginning March 1st. For further information please see below.
Beginning March 1st, Box Elder Police will begin enforcing a new distracted driving ordinance in the city. Passed by the Box Elder Common Council in February, the new ordinance is intended to address the dangerous roadway conditions drivers can create when they divide their attention between their duties behind the wheel and the things around them in their car.
Unlike other laws enacted by local governments and bills currently in the state legislature, ordinance 543 addresses distracted driving in general rather than focusing on texting or cellular phone usage. The new Box Elder law defines distracted driving as, “inattentive driving while operating a motor vehicle caused by texting, reading, writing, performing personal grooming, interacting with pets, passengers, or unsecured cargo, using personal communications technologies, mobile phones, or other electronic device, or engaging in any other activity which may cause driver distraction.” –Ord 543, Art 2
Despite this expansive definition and popular misconception, officers will not be targeting motorists who fail to have both hands on the steering wheel. Ordinance 543 establishes that distracted driving will be enforced as a secondary offense, meaning that a driver must first have committed another traffic violation or been involved in a motor vehicle crash before contact with police will occur. Requiring a primary violation or other causal factor for a stop by police ensures that officers are taking action when a dangerous condition on the roadway exists, and that an individual driver’s judgment, circumstances, and individual liberty remain respected.
The overwhelming majority of drivers will be brought into compliance with simple passage of the law. Thereafter, enforcement will begin with a period of education in which violators will be warned about the dangers of distracted driving. Later, those found to still be driving while distracted will be fined $120.00, the penalty for a class 2 misdemeanor traffic violation. In addition to any fines and costs imposed, the ordinance also establishes that a driver found guilty will be held responsible for any costs incurred in the case, and for the compensation of any victim for their personal injury or property damage.
A copy of the full text of Ordinance 543 is available under the Ordinance Section of this website for your review. Should you have any further questions about this ordinance, other police services, or to schedule a safety talk with an officer, please contact the Box Elder Police Department at (605)923-1401.