Texting ban brought closer to fruition

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Alabama legislature came one step closer to passing a statewide ban on texting while driving on Tuesday, April 25, when the Senate passed its own version of the law.

Unlike the bill passed by the House earlier this year, the Senate version contained four exceptions to texting while operating a motor vehicle in the 24-7 decision.

The exceptions to the ban would allow texting by emergency workers operating authorized vehicles “in the due course of business”, by drivers obtaining emergency services, by drivers parked on the shoulder of a road or stopped by a traffic jam if the vehicle is in neutral or park and by drivers obtaining directions from a global positioning system.

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The exceptions proposed by the Senate, recommended by Senator Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison) have already met controversy from the House, who voted the bill down 94-0 in a landslide decision.

The House has now called for a committee of three representatives and three senators to draft a compromise of the bill which would be approved by both parties, though approval is expected by members of legislature who stated the bill could become law as early as this week.

In Pike County members of local law enforcement see the potential law as a way to improve safety of vehicle operators and a beneficial plan.

“I think the law is beneficial,” Police Chief Jimmy Ennis said. “Texting while driving is certainly dangerous and can distract drivers.”

Though the two bills differ in certain ways they both agree on the penalties that would be handed down to violators of the law.

A first offense would warrant a $25 fine, followed by $50 for a second and $75 for a third along with a two point penalty on a person’s driving record for each conviction.

In Alabama, getting 12 points or more in a two year period results in a 60-day suspension of a person’s driver’s license.

A law banning text messaging while operating a motor vehicle has raised skepticism among Pike County residents, who see the law’s benefit but question the state’s ability to police it.

“It’s going to be hard to enforce but it’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Kyle Crabtree, a senior journalism major at Troy University, said. “Texting is right up there with drinking and driving, the law will make things inconvenient but it is a step in the right direction. I’m curious to see how it plays out and if it will be beneficial or not.”

For more information on the texting ban as it moves through the legislature, keep checking the Troy Messenger both in print and online at troymessenger.com.