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Hands off! Police citizens council holding forum on new driving ordinance

HUNTSVILLE – Drivers have been alerted. Police have been issuing warnings.

The grace period, however, will be over before fireworks fill the sky on the Fourth of July.

An updated, more penal hands-free law was introduced to Huntsville the first of the year, but provisions were included for a six-month public education period before offenders receive citations for using hand-held digital devices while driving.

To help the public learn more about the updated Hands-Free driving ordinance, the Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council (HPCAC) will host a community forum Tuesday.

(City of Huntsville/Facebook)

The forum will be at 6 p.m. in the AV room at Hampton Cove Middle School. Huntsville City Council President David Little and Huntsville police officers will attend to answer questions regarding the public safety goals behind this action.

Little said feedback regarding the change has been positive and Huntsville Police Chief Kirk Giles reports that officers have been trained regarding the issue.

“I haven’t heard much negativity since we rolled it out,’’ Little said. “Chief Giles texted me a couple weeks ago and said they had issued about 100 citations, or warnings. It took them a while to get all their own service training, had discussions about how they go about enforcing.

“Once they had all their training and ducks in a row, they started to pull people over. They give them a little card that says, ‘This is illegal now and you’re getting a warning,’ and then at the end of June they’ll start enforcing.’’

The ordinance became law Jan. 1, and the six-month grace period ends July 1. The law prohibits drivers from doing the following while operating a motor vehicle:

  • Using a wireless telecommunications device to write, send, read or otherwise engage in any text-based communication;
  • Watching, recording or capturing 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.

The HPCAC hosts quarterly public forums on public safety topics throughout the year. The schedule and locations are posted on HuntsvilleAL.gov/hpcac web page.

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