Distracted Driving Bill Hits a Snag in Alabama

The Alabama House of Representatives last week narrowly rejected a proposal to fine people for using a smartphone while driving.

The bill by Republican Rep. K.L. Brown of Jacksonville would have prohibited a driver from holding a phone with their hands or shoulders, or watching or recording with a phone while driving. The bill failed on a narrow 47-48 vote after a lengthy debate that drew criticism from members of both parties.

Some lawmakers questioned if the measure would be enforceable. Some Democrats also expressed concern that the driving law would be used to target minorities for traffic stops.

Distracted driving is a deadly threat to roadway safety and Alabama should follow states that have passed “hands-free” legislation.

Republican Rep. Will Dismukes of Prattville said he thought many lawmakers would be hypocritical if they voted for the bill.

“When I left on Thursday, I passed three legislators driving north on 65 and each one of them was on their cell phone,” Dismukes said.

People could still use Bluetooth devices for their phones.

But the bill still faced controversy on the House floor Thursday. Several lawmakers called the bill flawed and said it is too broad.

Givan is concerned people may face penalties for simply holding their phone without looking at it while driving.

In 2019, this bill passed out of the House but did not pass the Senate.


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