James Jones: Hands Free Law now underway in Alabama

Published 10:20 am Monday, June 10, 2024

The new Hands-free law in Alabama doesn’t affect my driving style.

Formerly known as Senate Bill 301, the law states it will be beginning on June 15 a Class C misdemeanor holding a cellphone while driving. It is now a secondary offense, meaning a person must be observed committing another traffic offense to get a citation. 

The law states it is illegal to physically hold a wireless telecommunications device, physically hold or support a device, write, send, or read any text-based communication, watch a video or movie on a wireless telecommunications device, record or broadcast a video on a wireless telecommunications device, or use more than a single button or swipe of a finger to initiate voice communication.

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Starting this month,  citations will be issued. First offenses will cost drivers $50 and a point on their driving record. The second offense will increase to $100 and two points if the driver violates the hands-free law within 24 months of the first offense. If drivers haven’t learned their lesson after three citations, it will cost them $150, and three points added to their driving record.

I will not have to change my approach under the texting while driving rule. For years living on the Mississippi Coast, my cell phone always stayed near the cupholder.  If the phone rang, I usually pulled into a gas station to answer it. I never played with my cell phone while driving. 

From where I sit, I believe the goal is to get drivers into utilizing voice-activated and hands-free communication methods when behind the wheel.

Police officers, EMS workers and other first responders, and utility workers are an exception to the law, if they are doing it safely and on the job.

I don’t have a problem with that. I’ve got faith in the Selma Police Department, Dallas County Sheriff’s Office and Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. Selma and Dallas County residents need to get on board with the new rule.

James Jones is the managing editor of The Selma Times-Journal. He can be reached at james.jones@selmatimesjournal.com.