Alabama's Distracted Driving (Texting and Cell Phone) Laws and Penalties

Read about Alabama’s distracted driving laws and the costs of a violation.

Alabama's distracted driving laws prohibit text messaging for all drivers and talking on a cell phone for only certain drivers. This article discusses the specifics of what the laws prohibit and the costs of a texting or cell phone ticket.

Alabama's Distracted Driving (Texting and Cell Phones) Laws

Alabama's distracted driving laws cover texting, cell phone use, and other doing other distracting activities while driving. The law states a motorist "shall not engage in any actions prohibited by law which shall distract the individual from the safe operation of the vehicle." (Ala. Code § 32-5A-350.1.)

More specifically, Alabama's distracted driving law says distracted driving includes "crossing in and out of a traffic lane without using a turn signal, swerving, or otherwise operating the vehicle in an impaired manner while":

  • holding a wireless telecommunication device (cell phones, tablets, and like devices)
  • physically holding or supporting with any part of your body a "stand-alone electronic device" (devices other than cell phones that store audio or video data files to be retrieved on demand by a user)
  • sending, writing, or reading a text message
  • watching a video or moving on an electronic device
  • recording or broadcasting a video (doesn't apply to devices used for the sole purpose of continuously recording or broadcasting video inside or outside the vehicle)
  • using more than a single button or swipe to initiate or terminate a call, and
  • reaching for an electronic device in a manner that requires the driver to no longer be seated in a driving position properly restrained by a safety belt.

However, the text-messaging provision doesn't apply to voice-operated technologies and there are some exceptions for GPS devices.

Distracted Driving Penalties in Alabama

A distracted driving violation is generally a class C misdemeanor in Alabama. A violation carries:

  • up to $50 in fines and one point for a first violation within 24 months
  • up to $100 in fines and two points for a second violation within 24 months, and
  • up to $150 in fines and three points for a third or subsequent violation within 24 months.

However, a driver can avoid a conviction for a first offense by producing in court proof of acquiring a hands-free device.

For underage drivers (those under 18), a distracted driving violation will generally result in $150 to $350 in fines and two violation points and can delay the licensing process.

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