By Craig Monger

New legislation in the Alabama House of Representatives seeks to prohibit a driver from using a mobile device while the vehicle is in motion.

Rep K.L Brown (Jacksonville) has pre-filed HB24 for consideration in the 2022 regular session.

The bill seeks to ban filming, photography, videography, and communication from a mobile device while operating a motor vehicle.

Audio communication would also be prohibited. According to the bill, only a hands-free Bluetooth or headphone system would be legal. The bill would also prohibit the physical grasping of a mobile device while operating a vehicle, regardless of the result. Provision is made for the use of a mobile device for the purposes of navigation, so long as the input of coordinates has taken place while the vehicle is stationary. 

A person would be allowed to have the mobile device affixed to the vehicle by a mounting device, but the use of the device would be limited to one tap or swipe. There is no detail given as to how a law enforcement officer attempting to issue a citation for the offense would be able to determine how many swipes or taps a person has activated on the mounted mobile device.

The bill prohibits the grasping of a mobile device but allows the use of a device for navigation, so it is unclear if every individual would be compelled to purchase a dashboard mount to avoid citation while using their mobile device.

The only exception made in the case of making a video while driving is while the vehicle is stationary or on the shoulder of a roadway. Continual or automatic recording devices are not prohibited, such as a dashcam or backup camera. 

There are exceptions for emergency use, use on the shoulder of a roadway, voice activation, and headphone and earpiece devices.

HB24 would not apply to law enforcement and first responders using their mobile devices for official purposes. However, no details are provided for determining if the device is for personal or official use.

The penalties for violating the proposed statute would be $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second offense, and $300 for the third. The first two offenses would count as two points on your license, and the third would be three points. No details are given for subsequent violations after a third. 

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