HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The Huntsville City Council came together for its first meeting of October, and leaders were tasked with voting on a hands-free driving ordinance.
After the issue was tabled during the previous two meetings, city leaders voted in favor of that hands-free driving ordinance, but there were some modifications made to the originally proposed legislation.
The new ordinance will take the state’s law, which makes it a class C Misdemeanor to be holding a cell phone while driving a vehicle, a step further for drivers in Huntsville.
Council members had been considering the ordinance which looks to strengthen the city’s existing law restricting the use of wireless communication devices when behind the wheel.
In the original proposal, a third citation for violating the new law could’ve included jail time, but city leaders voted to remove imprisonment from any violation of the ordinance. The change council members made to that proposal states that those people who commit a third violation will now be subject to a $150 fine and possible community service obligations.
While the new ordinance is similar to the Rocket City’s existing no-texting while driving law, this amended legislation will make it less difficult for the police to enforce the new law, as it is now considered a primary offense. Under state law, holding a phone while driving was a secondary offense.
Huntsville city council member David Little says he was critically injured in a distracted driver-related accident in 2008. Little, who introduced the ordinance says he’s hoping it will make way for safer roadways in Huntsville.
“There’s going to be a period of education for the community,” Little told News 19. “This is a big deal. We’ve had a no-texting ordinance since 2010, it’s been very hard to enforce… We’ll work with the police department to figure out the best way to implement that, maybe there’s a period of writing warnings and then they’ll start writing tickets.”
Before any citations are distributed, Little and Huntsville Police Chief Kirk Giles say there will be a six-month warning period once the law goes into effect on January 1st, 2024.
As for other takeaways from the meeting, city council members voted in favor and made way for a music festival to take place in John Hunt Park in the near future. They also say they’ve acknowledged the hundreds of lives lost following the recent attacks on Israel.
City leaders announced their support for all the innocent lives being impacted by the violence that is ongoing in the Middle East.
A full breakdown of the new hands-free driving ordinance can be found here.