Distracted driving is a deadly habit that takes thousands of lives in the U.S. each year. In 2017 alone, this specific driver error killed 3,166 victims and seriously injured many more. Driving while engaged in other activities could lead to a devastating distracted driving accident. Drivers who cause these crashes may face liability for victims’ damages, as well as criminal charges for breaking one of Alabama’s distracted driving laws.

What Is Distracted Driving?

A driver distraction is anything that diverts the driver’s attention away from the wheel, the road and/or the driving task. Distracted driving is a dangerous practice that means the driver is not dedicating his or her full attention to driving. If the driver’s eyes are not on the road, hands are not on the wheel or brain is not focused on the driving task, he or she is guilty of distracted driving.

  • Personal grooming
  • Eating or drinking
  • Texting and driving
  • Using a cellphone
  • Adjusting a GPS or radio
  • Reading a map
  • Staring at something outside of the vehicle
  • Talking to passengers
  • Reaching for something on the floor
  • Daydreaming

Many different things could distract drivers behind the wheel. There are manual, visual and cognitive distractions – all of which can be dangerous enough to cause a serious auto accident in Alabama. If a driver causes a collision while distracted, he or she may have to pay for victims’ damages, including property repairs and medical costs. The driver may also face penalties for a legal infraction.

What Are the Laws for Distracted Driving in Alabama?

Alabama does not have a specific law against driving distracted. It does, however, have a statute banning certain uses of cellphones behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. Alabama’s cellphone law bans texting and driving for all drivers, regardless of age or experience. Alabama also has a law against reckless driving. If a distraction causes a driver to speed, ignore rights-of-way, run stoplights or stop signs, make unsafe lane changes, or break other rules, the driver could be guilty of reckless driving. This offense carries five days to six months in jail, as well as $25 to $500 in fines.

Is Texting and Driving Allowed?

No, the law does not permit any driver to text and drive in Alabama. The state’s cellphone law says no driver may use a handheld device to read, write or send any type of electronic message. This includes texts, instant messages and emails. Bus drivers and novice drivers also may not use handheld phones to make phone calls, except in emergencies. Novice drivers are those 16 or 17 years old with intermediate licenses for less than 6 months.

The texting ban is a primary law, meaning the police do not need any other reason to pull over a driver or issue a ticket. The penalties for texting and driving in Alabama are $25 for a first offense, $50 for a second and $75 for a third. A driver will also receive points against his or her license. Breaking the handheld phone law as a bus driver or novice driver comes with a fine of $150 to $300, as well as two demerit points against the driver’s record.

Is Eating While Driving Legal?

Although Alabama technically does not have a law against eating while driving, if it distracts the driver enough to break a traffic law or cause an auto accident, the driver could face adverse consequences. A driver that causes a crash while eating may have to pay for victims’ losses such as vehicle repairs, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The driver may also face fines for committing the crime of reckless driving. If you get into an accident with a driver who was eating, texting or otherwise distracted, contact an attorney for help with the claims process. The at-fault driver may owe you compensation.