Alabama*s ban on Texting While Driving

Alabama’s Ban on
Texting While Driving
July 2012
• Introduction to the law
• Understanding the problem
• Discuss enforcement strategies
Title 32-5A-350 & Other Provisions
No Texting While Driving
• 32-5A-350(b)
• A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a
public road, street, or highway in Alabama while
using a wireless telecommunication device to
write, send, or read a text-based communication.
A handheld cellular telephone, a
text-messaging device, a personal
digital assistant, a stand alone
computer, or any other similar
wireless device that is readily
removable from a vehicle and is
used to write, send, or read text or
data through manual input. The
term "wireless telecommunication
device" does not include a device
which is voice-operated and which
allows the user to send or receive a
text-based communication without
the use of either hand except to
activate or deactivate a feature or
a wireless telecommunication device
to manually communicate with any
person using text-based
communication, including, but not
limited to, communications referred
to as a text message, instant
message, or electronic mail. The
term does not include reading,
selecting, or entering a telephone
number or name in a cell or wireless
telephone or communication device
for the purpose of making a
telephone call.
Legal or Illegal under this law?
Primary Violation
• 32-5A-350(d)
• Law enforcement officers enforcing this section
may treat a violation of this section as the
primary or sole reason for issuing a citation to a
Crime & Punishment
Fine Schedule (Minus Court Costs)
Other Provisions
• 32-5A-350(c)
• A person who violates
subsection (b) is subject to
fines as follows:
▫ (1) Twenty-five dollars
($25) for a first violation.
▫ (2) Fifty dollars ($50) for a
second violation.
▫ (3) Seventy-five dollars
($75) for a third or
subsequent violation.
• 32-5A-351
▫ A conviction of this act shall
be entered on the driving
record of any individual
charged under this act as a
two-point violation.
• 32-5A-352(a)
▫ In any case brought by a law
enforcement officer employed
by the Department of Public
Safety all funds fines shall be
allocated to the State General
Maintain Statistics
• 32-5A-352(b)
• Each state, county, and municipal law
enforcement agency shall maintain statistical
information on traffic stops made pursuant to
this act on minority groups and report that
information monthly to the Department of
Public Safety.
NHTSA Survey Regarding
Texting While Driving
Percentage that admitted they did text or e-mail
Do you ever send texts or e-mails while driving?
NHTSA’s Blueprint for Ending
Distracted Driving
Raise Public Awareness
Lead by Example
Research & Development
Enact & Enforce Tough
State Laws
Not all phone use is illegal while driving
Illegal while driving
• Texting
▫ Writing a text
▫ Reading a text
▫ Sending a text
• E-mailing
▫ Writing an e-mail
▫ Reading an e-mail
▫ Sending an IM
• Instant Messaging
▫ Writing an IM
▫ Reading an IM
▫ Sending an IM
Legal while driving
Talking on the cell phone
Listening to a text
Verbally composing a text
Using cell phone to look up
• Using cell phone as GPS
• Using cell phone as a camera
• Using a cell phone to listen to
• Officers’ biggest challenge will be trying to
determine if the driver is illegally texting or
doing some other act that is not deemed illegal
under the law.
Effective Enforcement
• Visually ensure that texting is
taking place if possible
• Photo/Video violation taking
• Make note of confessions
• Watch from the roadside of
congested areas
▫ Texting while stopped is
also illegal
• Note time of the offense by
your phone
• Don’t text while driving on
• Don’t attempt to use your
phone to photograph the
offender using his phone
▫ Everything on your phone
could be open to
• Don’t ask for the offender’s
▫ There is no language that
allows that type of seizure
Searching the Suspect’s Cell Phone
• Is it necessary?
▫ You already saw the offense take place.
▫ Do you conduct searches during other moving
• Is there case law about this? Kinda…
▫ People v. Gregory Diaz (California Supreme Court)
▫ USA v. Abel Flores-Lopez (US Court of Appeals 7th Circuit)
 Both of these cases allowed searches of cell phones by police.
 However, both cases were custodial arrests for felonies.
• This law will not be popular with many…
however, enforcement may save many lives.
• Questions

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