HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — It is now illegal to be holding a cell phone when you are behind the wheel of a moving vehicle in Alabama.
Earlier this month, Governor Kay Ivey signed Senate Bill 301 into law. The law states that it is now a Class C Misdemeanor to be holding a cell phone while driving.
It is considered a secondary offense, meaning you need to be committing a separate moving violation like speeding, swerving, not using a turn signal or impaired driving to be pulled over. If the officer also sees you using a phone that is a separate offense.
The law states it is illegal to physically hold a wireless telecommunications device, physically hold or support a device, write, send, or read any text-based communication, watch a video or movie on a wireless telecommunications device, record or broadcast a video on a wireless telecommunications device, or use more than a single button or swipe of a finger to initiate voice communication.
The goal is to get drivers to utilize voice-activated and hands-free communication methods when behind the wheel.
“It is really inexpensive to have a hands-free device,” said Allison Green with Drive Safe Alabama, “For about five dollars you can find a car mount for your cell phone so you don’t have to hold it. There are free apps that you can download for voice activation.”
Green said cell phone use is one of the most common forms of distracted driving, and in 2022 alone, there were 67 deaths linked to distracted driving in Alabama.
“As you can see this is a huge issue for our roads,” she said.
If you are caught breaking the law, you will receive a citation. Your first citation carries a fine of up to $50 and one point on your license. If you receive a second citation within 24 months of your first, the ticket increases to $100 and 2 points.
However, the law states that no citations will be issued until June of 2024, while drivers get used to the new law. Until then, if you are caught in violation, you will receive a warning.
Police officers, EMS workers and other first responders, and utility workers are an exception to the law, if they are doing it safely and on the job.
There are a few other exceptions and stipulations that can be found in the full law.
The full law can be read here.