Reality Check: Alabama could be the next state to outlaw holding your phone while driving

(WPMI:Image)Reality Check: Alabama could be the next state to outlaw holding your phone while driving

Drivers often ignore Alabama's weak ban on texting while driving. A law with little teeth and cumbersome restrictions that make it tough to enforce. In the coming weeks, Alabama lawmakers will consider a stricter, hands-free law. NBC 15's Andrea Ramey shows us what it looks like when states get tough on texting while driving.

The Peach State isn’t playing when it comes to distracted driving. Georgia went hands free last year. That means just holding your phone is a violation of the law. To see if the law has had an impact, we recently went out on patrol with a Georgia trooper.

"You violated the hands-free law today sir. Had the phone in your hand boss, all the way coming through. Don't pretend you didn't," said trooper Marshall Moore to a driver he pulled over.

We easily find violators who try to wiggle out of a ticket.

"I don't think you trying to trying to connect to Bluetooth I think you were on the phone texting. When you're like this at the light with your hands on the phone like this it's hard to believe you were just trying to connect to that, ok? You got your license?" said Marshall.

In just the seven months it’s been on the books, Moore says the law has made a big difference. Georgia Troopers have written more than 8,000 tickets.

"You could just see it all day long, phones right in the face, it was just more blatant. It's gotten a lot better. I think it's prevented some crashes," said Moore.

Alabama has a law that bans texting while driving. The problem is, what Alabama lawmakers passed, ask any officer, it’s not easy to enforce.

"For us to issue the ticket we have to prove they were either reading or writing a text message or instant message or email. It’s hard to prove what someone is doing with their phone. Very hard for me to be able to say 100% from inside my truck that I know the person was sending a text message, an email or an instant message vs their GPS on their phone," said Mobile Police Cpl. Jonathan Mixon.

There’s also little incentive for drivers to follow the law. The fine is just $25. In Georgia it's $50 and points are added to your license.

These weaknesses coupled with tragic deaths contributed to texting while driving now prompting lawmakers to crack down. This session they’ll consider going the way of Georgia and 15 other states that have passed hands-free legislation.

"It's simple and easy. If you see it, if it's in their hand it violates the law," said Moore. "I will say I think it's made the road a lot safer."

It's hard to predict what will happen this upcoming legislative session, but the bill's sponsor, Rep. Allen Farley, says he has “not received one negative email or comment” about his hands-free proposal.

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