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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) – A statewide texting ban for drivers goes into effect this week.  The new law takes effect on Wednesday, August 1.

Alabama’s new law prohibits using a wireless device to write, send, or read a text message, instant message or e-mail while operating a motor vehicle.  If you’re caught texting while driving, you face the following fines:

  • $25 for a first offense
  • $50 for the second offense
  • $75 dollars for a third offense

Alabama becomes the 38th state to ban texting and driving.  Governor Robert Bentley signed the new law in May.

“Signing this bill sends a message that drivers need to focus on driving – not on sending a text,” Governor Bentley said when he signed the law.  “There is nothing so urgent that it is worth risking your life, or the lives of others, by sending a text message while you are driving down the road.”

According to data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, texting while driving creates a crash risk that is 23 times greater than when a driver is not distracted.  Also, sending or receiving a text message takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds.  For a driver going 55 miles-per-hour, that’s the equivalent of driving the entire length of a football field.

Many cities, including Huntsville, Madison, and Decatur already have city ordinances banning texting and driving.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle says the city may look into repealing the city ordinance, now that the state law covers the same territory more aggressively.

Captain Kirk Giles of Huntsville Police says the signs of texting and driving are all too obvious, “You can see the effect of just utilizing a cell phone and the fact that they’re not paying attention, because of weaving and people not paying attention to their driving.”