How Alabama’s new hand-free driving law works and why it matters

Hand-Free
Alabama passed a new Hands-free driving law in June 2023 outlawing holding a cellphone while driving (Grace Howard/Bham Now)

It is now illegal to hold a phone in your hand while driving in the state of Alabama, thanks to a new law.

Senate Bill 301, which was sponsored by Vestavia Hill State Senator Jabo Waggoner, passed the Alabama legislature and was signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey in mid-June. The law went into effect immediately.

Modeled after Georgia

Modeled after a hands-free law that has been on the books in Georgia for years,  violation of the law is a secondary charge—meaning police can’t pull you over specifically for holding your phone. However, if you are pulled over for something like speeding or running a stop sign the hands-free charge can be tacked on. 

The first violation is a $50 fine. The fine steadily increases after each violation up to a point.

You can still talk on the phone

It is important to recognize that you can still talk on the phone while you’re driving, but it has to be through the use of some type of hands-free device such as your Bluetooth function in your car or an earpiece of some kind. 

You are also not prohibited from holding a phone while driving if you need emergency services or if you are parked in your automobile on a street. 

Big safety risk

According to Clay Ingram with AAA Alabama distracted driving is one of the biggest safety risks that we encounter out on Alabama highways these days. 

“We’ve all seen people weaving back and forth, speeding up and then slowing down or running off the edge of the road. You know immediately they’ve got a phone in their hand and they’re texting, watching a video or something.”

Hands-free driving laws make a difference

Ingram told The Bama Buzz that hands-free driving laws have saved lives.

“There are 30 other states that have this kind of hands-free law in place and we have seen their crash numbers go down. 

That’s what we’re about here at AAA. We’re trying to make our highways safer for everybody. We want to continue to encourage people to keep their hands on the wheel, their eyes on the road and stay focused. You will be safer in your vehicle and the people around you will be safer in their vehicles as well,”  Ingram concluded.

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Pat Byington
Pat Byington
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