City Council approves hands-free ordinance to make Huntsville roadways safer
Published on October 12, 2023
The Huntsville City Council has approved an ordinance that restricts the use of wireless communication devices while driving.
During its Oct. 12 regular meeting, City Council voted to green-light an amended ordinance that would upgrade the City’s existing no-text ordinance from a secondary to a primary offense, allowing officers to stop a driver when they see a violation and issue a citation. In a secondary offense, officers can only issue a citation if there is another reason to stop the driver.
Council approved the new ordinance, to begin Jan. 1, 2024. The law will also prohibit drivers from doing any of the following while operating a vehicle:
- Using a wireless telecommunications device to write, send, read or otherwise engage in any text-based communication;
- Watching, recording or capturing a photo or video;
- Engaging in voice-based communication while holding a wireless telecommunications device; or
- Physically holding or otherwise supporting a wireless telecommunications device with any part of their body.
Council also agreed to adjust fines for convictions within a 24-month period as follows: $50 for a first conviction; $100 for a second conviction; and $150 for a third conviction and/or community service.
Police Chief Kirk Giles said officers support the amended ordinance and his department will use the first six months of the year to educate police and the community, without issuing citations.
District 2 Council Member David Little sponsored the ordinance and its amendments, which the Huntsville Police Department supports. As someone who was critically injured in a distracted driving-related car accident in 2008, Little called the new law a “win-win” for Huntsville.
“Our existing ordinance is very hard to enforce, so I’m thankful to my colleagues with the City Council for voting to strengthen this law,” he said. “Nearly 15 years since I was seriously hurt in a crash caused by a distracted driver, I’m grateful to be here today and will continue to be an advocate for safer roads.”