MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) — The City of Madison may soon be cracking down on people texting and driving.
At the September 11th City Council meeting, there was a first reading for Proposed Ordinance No. 2023-303. The ordinance would be stricter than the Hands-Free law that went into effect statewide in June.
The Hands-Free ordinance would make holding a phone while driving a primary offense in the City of Madison. This means that a police officer could pull a person over, even if holding the phone while driving was their only offense.
Under current statewide law, holding a phone while driving is a secondary offense, so in order to receive a ticket for holding a phone while driving you also need to be committing another offense. While the statewide law is technically in effect, there is a one-year grace period before officers will start issuing tickets. Until June of 2024, officers are only issuing warnings.
It was explained during the meeting that under this ordinance, a driver would be given a $25 ticket for a first offense, a $50 ticket for a second, and a $75 ticket for a third. The ordinance would go into effect immediately if it is passed.
There would be exceptions for law enforcement and first responders.
Since Monday was only the first reading, the ordinance isn’t set in stone. A representative for the City of Madison told News 19 that the City Council still needs to vote on the ordinance, and explained that it is “likely” a vote will happen at the next City Council meeting.
Deborah Garza, a local mom, said she’s all for a policy that could make the roads safer.
“There’s been a lot of distracted driving around lately that I’ve seen and been in front of,” she said. “So I do think it’s a good idea.”
Garza said she recently witnessed a pretty bad crash on the road, and it made her wonder if the person was texting or distracted while driving.
“That was dangerous,” Garza said. “That’s not the first time we’ve seen some pretty drastic swerving in the road.”
The ordinance that the City of Madison is considering is very similar to the one that the City of Huntsville is considering. Huntsville will be voting on its ordinance on September 14th.