(WHNT) – A bill that would expand existing restrictions regarding cellphone usage while driving has made its way through the Alabama legislature.
Now, Senate Bill 301 (SB301) will be heading to Governor Kay Ivey’s desk, where she can sign it into law. Senator Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills) proposed the bill during the legislative session on June 6, and it passed through the Alabama House on the final day of the session.
SB301 expands the state law that already prohibits texting while driving to also restrict individuals holding a cellular device while driving a vehicle.
The bill would make it illegal for an individual to hold a cellphone while operating a vehicle in “an impaired manner,” changing lanes without a turn signal and swerving.
The bill cites other specific reasons one could be pulled over, such as physically holding a phone, writing, sending, or reading any text-based communication, using a device for navigation and more while operating a motor vehicle.
Each violation is considered a separate offense. In addition to this, any person convicted of violating these expanded laws is considered guilty of a Class C misdemeanor which is punished in one of three ways:
- The first offense is a fine no greater than $50, a first-point violation.
- The second offense within the 24-month time, measured by any previous convictions, results in a fine no greater than $100, a second-point violation.
- The third or following offenses within the 24-month time frame, measured by any previous convictions, receive a fine no greater than $150, a third-point violation.
Each violation, whether it be a first-point, second-point or third-point is then placed on the individual’s driving record.
Some exceptions to these laws laid out in SB301 include using a phone to contact emergency services while operating a vehicle, using a phone while pulled over on the shoulder of a road, and using a phone for navigation without manually inputting anything.
According to the bill, police would only issue warnings and no citations for the first year if the bill is signed into law.
To read the full legislation and the specific rules, click here.