No. 38: Alabama bans texting & driving

state Rep. Jim McClendon of AlabamaStarting Aug. 1, text messaging while driving will be illegal in the state of Alabama.

Gov. Robert Bentley signed off on the distracted driving legislation May 8. The law was a long time coming.

The bill’s author is state Rep. Jim McClendon, left, one of the nation’s most persistent lawmakers when it comes to distracted driving.

McClendon, R-Springville, saw his distracted driving legislation rejected or ignored at least six times. In 2011 and 2012, McClendon’s texting and driving bills cleared the House only to die in the Senate.

This year, the Senate played ball. A compromise deal was stuck April 26, with House Bill 2 winning unanimous approval in both houses of the Legislature.

For a state that was hesitant to pass a texting law, it gave its new law some teeth. The Alabama texting ban will receive primary enforcement. Fines are relatively low — $25 (first offense) then $50 and $75 — but convictions bring two points against the driver’s license.

Alabama becomes the 38th state to ban texting while driving. Drivers age 18 and above are allowed to use cell phones in the state, but teenagers are not.

McClendon said he understood the delay in getting a texting law: Alabama is a state big on its personal liberties, he said, not New York or California — and needed some time to come around.

State Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, was one of the lawmakers who opposed text messaging legislation in the past but voted for McClendon’s plan this year. “I saw a young lady come that close to death with an 18-wheeler because of texting,” he said after the key House vote.

It wasn’t certain that Gov. Bentley was going to sign the distracted driving bill when it emerged from the Legislature. He clearly was on board at the signing:

“It doesn’t take a lot of common sense to know that you can’t text and drive at the same time,” Bentley said. “I believe this will save lives.”

DOT chief Roy La Hood chimed in: “With Governor Bentley’s signature, now more than three-quarters of all states outlaw one of the riskiest behaviors behind the wheel — texting and driving.

“Alabama roads and motorists will be safer as a result of this law,” La Hood said.

Comments

  1. Al Cinamon says:

    I am shocked that this legislation was rejected six times. Only after some kind of compromise was struck did it pass muster. It just goes to prove what I’ve always said. It’s not about safety! It’s a political decision to make sure they aggravate the least number of constituents. Can you imagine, a $25 fine for the first offense? I bet there’s a heftier fine if you park in the wrong place.

  2. Danisa Brown says:

    I cannot believe it took so long to get this passed. My son was killed by a lady that was speeding and texting while driving, if this had passed sooner my son might be alive today.

  3. Christine says:

    In 2011 a 17 year old nearly took my life and the people that were in front of me at a four way stop light on a busy intersection in Bastrop,Tx to me I think they should have there licence banned for 90 days and have there permit and driving done all over again,,,she was doing 65 on a 50 hwy. I’m still waiting on my settlement to come but thats not why I’m worried, teenagers should be responsable for damages and people lives … if they can have a license then they should be totally responsable for peoples life on the streets. It’s a License to Kill!!!

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