Breaking down Alabama’s hands-free driving law now in effect

Published: Jun. 23, 2023 at 9:28 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Using your phone, even just holding it while driving is now illegal.

The new law went into effect last Friday.

Leeds Police Chief Paul Irwin says hands-free driving can save lives out on the road.

Some people might be used to driving with one hand, using another to type into their GPS or even type a phone number to make a call, but both of those are now illegal.

“You see so many people nowadays holding a phone up like it’s a walkie talkie with it on speaker mode and they’re looking at the phone while they’re driving and not look at the road,” said Clay Ingram with AAA Alabama. “It’s a big problem. It’s very very dangerous to do that.”

Ingram says if you need to use your phone, you must pull over, no matter the reason: “If you’re driving to a destination, say Orlando, and you know how to get to Orlando and you’re all right til you get there and then you get to Orlando and you think, ‘All right now I need to find our hotel. I don’t know where it is.’ Then you pick up your phone and program something, something like that -- you cannot do. You need to stop somewhere in a safe spot and program that in or do it before you leave.”

Though it is a secondary charge, meaning police can’t pull you over specifically for holding your phone, if you’re pulled over for any other reason, the hands-free charge can be tacked on. Chief Irwin says you can face consequences.

“It would be a fine and court costs and it would go on your drivers record, driver’s license and your insurance company would know you’re driving around using your cell phone,” he explains.

The first violation is a $50 fine. Multiple violations increase the fine and can impact your driving record.

“Impaired driving has become socially unacceptable in recent years and we need texting and driving or distracted driving to follow suit,” said Ingram.

Many cars nowadays have Bluetooth and you can connect your phone to your car. That is still legal and a good way to send a message or adjust your GPS without holding your phone.

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