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Alabama law limiting cell phone usage while driving goes into effect

Starting on Saturday in Alabama, if officers see you holding a cell phone while driving, you can be ticketed. A 2023 law goes into effect on June 1 requiring motorist use “hands free” devices if they want to use their cell phones while they are driving.

In Alabama, its already illegal for a person to write, send or read a text message while driving. It extends that ban on texting and driving in include physically holding or supporting a mobile device, watching, viewing, recording or capturing a picture or video while driving, and holding a phone for phone calls to that list.

The state has already placed a number of billboards across the state to notify motorists that this was the law — but there were no citations written for one year.

Fines will start at $50, with a one-point violation on the motorist’s driving record. A second violation would mean a $100 fine and a two-point violation. A third and subsequent violations would mean a $150 fine and a three-point violation.

RELATED: Law bans using a phone while driving (2023)

This is a secondary violation, not a primary violation. Holding an electronic device cannot be the sole reason for stopping the driver. A bill to make this a primary violation was rejected during the 2024 legislative session.

Senate Bill 301 (SB 301) was sponsored by Sen. J.T. ‘Jabo’ Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills). It was carried in the House by Rep. Randy Wood (R-Anniston).

Proponents claim that in 2022, almost seven percent of all motor vehicle-related fatalities in Alabama were caused by distracted driving.

Opponents expressed concern that passing this legislation will only lead to more Alabamians having unpleasant interactions with law enforcement and ensnare even more people in the court system costing them money in fines and court costs.

Allison Green is the Drive Safe Alabama coordinator for the Alabama Department of Transportation.

“Distracted driving is one of the fastest growing safety issues on the roads today,” said Director Green. “Distracted drivers aren’t just a threat to themselves; they are a danger to everyone else on the road.”

Newer vehicles come with hands-free capabilities that can be used to sync the smart phone with the vehicle. Motorists can also employ Bluetooth and dashboard device mounts.

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