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Bill would ban use of hand-held devices while driving

By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A bill that would prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones and other electronic devices while driving has been filed again by Rep. K. L. Brown, R-Jacksonville.

State law already prohibits texting while driving but House Bill 74 also prohibits a person from using a device to watch, capture or record a picture or video while driving. Holding the device while talking on the phone is also prohibited.

The fines would also be increased under Brown’s bill.

First time violators would be fined $100 and result in a two-point violation on their driving record. A second violation would result in a $200 fine and another two-points and a third violation would be $300 and three-points added to their record.

The bill does allow those who are contacting emergency services to be exempt from this rule.

Law enforcement and utility workers who use wireless communication devices for work would also be exempt.

The bill allows drivers to use Bluetooth and other hands-free connections for phone calls and interact with vehicle devices like back-up cameras.

This is similar to legislation that came up for a vote on the House floor last year and was originally sponsored by Rep. Allen Farley, R-McCalla, who without explanation tabled his bill and allowed Brown to carry it instead.

The bill never made it out of the House due to a “snafu” in the drafting of the bill, Brown told The Anniston Star last year.

Sixteen other states have also banned the use of hand-held cellphones in cars, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

According to Alabama’s Law Enforcement Agency, there were 8,296 car crashes caused by distracted driving between 2015 and 2017. Forty-three of those crashes were fatal.

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