Alabama passed a distracted driving law in 2012 due to the significant increase in accidents, injuries, and deaths that are a direct result of the rise in distracted driving.
Drivers today, unfortunately, have various things that can disrupt and divide their attention, causing them to lose focus and become distracted while driving. Keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel is critical when driving a vehicle.
Automobile accidents involving distracted drivers texting or on the phone increased by 20 percent between 2014 and 2016. This article will cover various distracted driving issues, including distracted driving laws in Alabama and the penalties and exceptions.
What is Distracted Driving?
According to Alabama law, distracted driving is any non-driving activity that causes the driver to divert their attention from driving. Various things may be distracting to drivers, including the following:
- Adjusting the radio
- Watching videos
- Talking to passengers
- Grooming activities
Unfortunately, many people think they can multitask while driving, but accidents can happen within seconds when the driver is distracted.
Distracted driving activities generally are in 1 of 3 categories:
- Manual distractions such as taking your hands off the steering wheel, eating, drinking, brushing your teeth, or grooming
- Cognitive distractions that distract your mental focus, such as talking on the phone or talking to other people in the car
- Visual distractions, such as adjusting the radio or watching a video
Texting is one of the most common distractions these days and is extremely dangerous because it involves all three types of distractions.
Distracted Driving Laws in Alabama
Distracted driving laws differ from state to state. Alabama’s distracted driving laws are relatively relaxed in comparison to most states.
Alabama Code 32-5A-350 states that drivers are prohibited from using wireless communication devices to send, write, or read text-based telecommunications while operating a vehicle. Any text-based telecommunication devices include the following:
- personal digital assistant
- laptops or tablets
- handheld cell phone
- similar wireless or portable devices
- text messaging, instant messaging, and email devices
In June 2023, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed Senate Bill 301 into law, making it illegal for anyone to physically hold a cell phone while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. It is a Class C Misdemeanor and is considered a secondary offense, which means that the driver must also be committing a separate moving violation such as speeding, swerving, not using a turn signal, etc.
Voice-operated and hands-free communication devices standard in newer vehicles are not included.
Penalties for Texting While Driving in Alabama
Penalties in Alabama for violating distracted driving laws include the following fines:
- Anyone under 18 will pay a fine between 150 and $350 for texting or using a cell phone while driving and getting two points on your driving record.
- Drivers over 18 will have to pay a $25 fine for the first offense of texting while driving in the final double for their second offense. All future violations beyond that will result in a $75 forfeiture.
When points are added to your driver’s record, it also means that your insurance company most likely raises your rates.
Exceptions to Alabama’s Distracted Driving Law
- Emergencies. The driver may use their cell phone to call for Emergency Services like the fire department, police, or healthcare provider while driving.
- Roadside. Drivers may use their cell phones when parked on the shoulder of a roadway.
- Directions. A driver may use their cell phone for pre-programmed directions; however, typing into an app such as Waze or Google Maps is still against the law.
Drivers face a higher risk of getting into a car accident when driving, six times higher when attempting to dial a number, and twenty-three times higher when texting.
How to Avoid Getting a Distracted Driving Violation in Alabama
The best way to avoid receiving a distracted driving violation in Alabama is to:
- Mount your device on the dashboard and only use voice-activated features.
- Put your device on silent, or put your phone or device away, even if that means placing it in the glove compartment, the backseat, or the trunk
- Download and use a text and call-blocking phone application
- Only use a hands-free device such as Bluetooth while driving
- Pull up the road when you need to use your device
Injury Due to Distracted Driver
Alabama law follows a fault-based compensation system. If you or someone you love is injured in a car accident by a distracted driver, consult an experienced personal injury attorney to recover compensation for your injuries.
It’s essential to know that Alabama car accident law places a two-year time limit to file a personal injury claim in court. If you fail to file a lawsuit in Alabama within two years of your accident, the court may dismiss your case.
Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney will ensure that all necessary evidence, including the following:
- Police reports, toxicology reports, and other related evidence
- Statements from witnesses, passengers, and drivers
- Testimony from expert witnesses
- Cell phone and text message records of the adult driver
- Available video footage from nearby cameras
- Road and weather conditions from the date of the accident
- Records of injuries sustained or property damage
- Medical records, paystub, treatment expenses, and other information regarding your financial losses or physical suffering as a result of the accident
Brackin Law Firm In Alabama Is Here To Help You With Your Car Accident Claim
Car accident injuries can range from mild to severe and significantly impact your life, taking a mental, emotional, and physical toll on you and your family. Suppose you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident in Alabama. In that case, it is crucial to consult with an experienced Alabama accident attorney to ensure you receive the condensation and justice you deserve.
At Brackin Law Firm, We have over 35 years of experience in representing Baldwin County families in car accident cases, criminal defense and DUI, divorce and family law, and estate planning. We are here to help you and will put our experience and skills to work for you to ensure your rights are protected. Contact us today for a consultation.