City bans texting while driving

Published 11:37 am Friday, December 10, 2010

Millions upon millions of text messages are sent across the country every day and a disturbingly high number of those are sent from behind the wheel of a car.

Thursday night, the Demopolis City Council took action that prohibits sending text messages while driving and making it a ticketable offense.

“It’s not about writing tickets,” said Demopolis Chief of Police Tommie Reese. “It’s about people watching where they’re going when they’re driving.”

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Any person found in violation faces a fine of not more than $50 or imprisonment for not more than 10 days. The second offense in a 12 month span warrants a $100 fine and with a third offense, violators face fines up to $500.

“This is not a we’re out to get you type thing,” said councilman Bill Meador who supported the measure. “People who text and drive – a lot of them – they drift over, they’re not attentive an they’re dangerous on the road.”

“It’s an attempt to make our streets safer,” Councilman Jack Cooley added.

The measure passed 4 to 1 with Congressman Mitchell Congress obtaining. Councilman Melvin Yelverton voted against it.

“It makes Demopolis look like a speed trap,” he said, noting that state lawmakers have failed to pass similar legislation for the past two years. “If people are just traveling through, they don’t know about the ordinance and it makes us look like we’re just out to write tickets.”

Cell phones for the purposes of making or receiving calls, GPS and radio devices are exempt from the ordinance.

“Those things only take a second or two to adjust or program,” Meador said. “Most people can dial a phone, or answer a phone, in two seconds. It doesn’t necessarily take the time of sending or reading text messages that require your eyes leave the road multiple times for extended periods of time.”