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The legal definition of “distracted driving” is the operation of a motor vehicle while the driver is engaged in any activity that draws his/her attention away from driving. Technically speaking, this could include things as common as tuning the radio or adjusting the mirrors, but it usually refers to more dangerous types of activity like texting or making phone calls while behind the wheel of a car.

Every 2.5 hours, someone dies as a result of distracted driving in the U.S. That comes to 3,450 people dead every single year based on statistics from 2016. Alabama’s distracted driving laws are a bit more lenient than in other states, but there are still penalties for texting and other forms of distracted driving.

Distracted Driving Laws in Alabama

Novices: The State of Alabama defines “novice drivers” as persons aged 16 or 17 who have had a provisional license for less than 6 months. Novice drivers under Alabama law are prohibited from using cell phones of any kind, to send or receive calls, while driving. This restriction pertains to phones that are hands-free as well as standard-type cell phones.  

Non-novices: Drivers in Alabama who are not classified as novices are permitted to use cell phones to make and send calls, but are not allowed to “receive, send or compose” text messages while driving. Even though Alabama is one of the more lenient states for distracted driving, there are still fines for breaking Alabama’s distracted driving laws. For novice and non-novice drivers, distracted driving considerations come into play for proving fault in car accidents

In general, Alabama drivers who violate the text messaging law are subject to monetary fines that increase with each successive offense. For example, a first offense carries a $25 fine in addition to 2 “points” charged against the person’s license. Second and third offenses carry fines of $50 and $75, respectively.

Novices who violate the phone-usage ban are subject to fines and the suspension of their license in extreme cases. Alabama’s distracted driving legislation was passed unanimously by the state’s law making body in 2011. It is one of only a few states to have passed such laws without a single dissenting vote.

About 20 percent of U.S. drivers regularly text while driving, according to surveys. As many as 40 percent of drivers in the same surveys admit to having texted at least once while driving in the recent past.

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