The law, which makes most forms of text-based communication illegal for drivers, was approved last week by Gov. Robert Bentley. The texting while driving ban takes effect Aug.1.
Walker County Sheriff John Mark Tirey said the law was a good idea by state legislators.
“Texting while driving is extremely dangerous,” he said. “I’m all for the ban. If it saves one life, then I think it has done its job.”
Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair said texting while driving has not been ruled a factor in any fatal wrecks in Walker County, but it is only a matter of time before it happens.
“It’s a real serious problem,” Adair said. “Distracted driving can lead to wrecks and deaths. You can’t be any more distracted than if you are trying to type a text and drive.”
Jasper Police Chief Connie Rowe said texting and driving has been a factor in numerous local accidents.
“We’ve seen a rise in accidents that may have been the result of someone texting while driving,” she said. “This law should serve as a deterrent for that behavior.”
Police suspecting someone of breaking the texting law can stop or cite a driver for that reason alone, but they must see a driver using their cell phones and texting on them. Fines for the new law are $25 for a first offense, $50 for a second offense and $75 for a third. A two-point demerit against a person’s driver’s license can also be imposed.
“I think the penalties were put on a graduated scale from $25 to $75, because the law is intended to educate people of the dangers associated with texting and driving,” Tirey said. “We need citizens to get into a mindset that texting and driving is something that just shouldn’t be done.”
Reading GPS information or texting in an emergency situation is not considered a violation of the law, but entering GPS coordinates into a device while in motion is a violation. Texting, emailing and instant messaging of any kind are also violations.
According to the law, drivers are free to enter phone numbers and to place and receive phone calls while driving.
“We should all be careful when driving any vehicle,” Adair said. “Don’t be distracted while driving, and lives will be saved because of it.”