Is Alabama a Hands-Free State?

Drivers who are texting behind the wheel are 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident than those who are not. Any use of a handheld device puts other drivers in the vicinity in danger. They have no control over the texting driver’s actions, but they are the ones who pay the price for carelessness. If you have been injured in a distracted driving accident, you may be entitled to substantial financial compensation. Contact our experienced Anniston car accident lawyers at Steve Morris Law to discuss your possible case.

Distracted Driving Is a Major Problem in Alabama

Alabama is one of the worst states in the country for distracted driving. One survey shows that nearly half of the drivers admit to texting while driving within the past month. Another survey from USAA shows that Alabama has the fourth most distracted drivers in the country based on the distraction rate. In 2020, there were 57 road fatalities that were connected to accidents involving distracted driving. For years, there were no laws on the books that prevented the use of a handheld device behind the wheel. However, the safety situation on Alabama roads had deteriorated to the point where state lawmakers needed to do something.

Alabama Has a New Hands-Free Law Which Was Recently Passed

Alabama is one of the last states in the country to pass a hands-free device law. As of now, motorists would receive a warning, but not a ticket if they are pulled over with a phone in their hand. Starting in June 2024, drivers can receive a citation for having a phone in their hands when driving.

Drivers may not do the following on their phones when behind the wheel:

  • Talking
  • Texting
  • Typing on the screen
  • Watching content while driving

The only drivers who are allowed to use a handheld device when behind the wheel are law enforcement, EMTs, other first responders and utility workers.

Officers Cannot Pull a Driver Over Just for Using a Cell Phone

Unlike most other states, holding a cellphone while driving is not a primary offense in Alabama. A police officer cannot pull you over for the sole reason that they saw you with a phone in your hand. If they stopped you for another reason, the officer could then issue a ticket for holding a device in your hand. Thus, Alabama’s hands-free law is a relatively weak one that may not always deter cell phone use while driving.

Further, drivers only violate the hands-free law when they are:

“[Operating] a vehicle in a distracted manner in violation of this section if the person is observed crossing in and out of a traffic lane without using a turn signal, swerving, or otherwise operating the vehicle in an impaired manner.”

Theoretically, a driver may be using a hands-free device but not breaking the law when they are still in their lane.

However, there are still stiff penalties if police are able to write a ticket for distracted driving. Once the law is fully effective, a driver would receive a single point on their license for the use of a mobile device and a $50 fine. If they are caught for a second time within a 24-month period, they will receive two points for the violation and a $100 fine. It is the points on the driver’s license that are the major penalty for breaking the law because motorists would pay more in car insurance premiums.

Drivers are still able to use cell phones to talk (and possibly text) through the use of a Bluetooth device. Even when a driver is not holding the phone in their hands, talking on the phone may still be distracting. Oftentimes, the driver is fiddling with the infotainment screen to control their phone, taking their eyes off the road for an extended amount of time.

You Do Not Have to Prove Distracted Driving

The important thing is that you are able to prove that the driver did something to cause your car accident. You do not necessarily need to prove that they were distracted while they were behind the wheel. For instance, if the driver veered out of their lane and into yours, that is negligence on its own without you even demonstrating that they were on their cell phone. Nonetheless, it may help your case if you are able to demonstrate that they were distracted behind the wheel. There may be a close call in determining liability that would go your way when you can show that the driver was on the phone.

Contact an Alabama Car Accident Attorney Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation if you can prove that the other driver was negligent. Steve Morris is an Alabama car accident lawyer who fights for the rights of car accident victims as they seek a settlement check for their injuries. You can speak to an attorney during a free initial consultation when you call us at 256-357-9211 or send us a message through our website. You pay us nothing unless you win.

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