Alabama bill would ease speed trap rule

| Tuesday, September 20, 2011

An Alabama state lawmaker has renewed his effort to give law enforcement in small towns the authority to ticket speeders on interstates. A separate effort is intended to reduce driver distractions.

Since 1996, Alabama law has prohibited police in cities with fewer than 19,000 residents from enforcing speed laws on interstate highways. The ban was attached to a bill boosting speeds to 70 mph.

Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, has prefiled a bill for consideration during the 2012 regular session. It would allow police in affected towns to issue speeding tickets on interstate highways.

The bill – SB8 – also would allow speed enforcement for all police departments on roads outside of city limits but within their jurisdictions.

Dial pursued the authorization during the 2011 regular session, but it did not get a vote on the Senate floor after advancing from committee.

Supporters say the law should be changed because there are not enough state troopers for speed enforcement on Alabama’s eight interstates. They also say putting more local officers on the interstates would result in safer travel.

Opponents say the ban is necessary to prevent small towns from creating speed traps on interstates and use ticket revenue to fill city coffers.

Another bill would prohibit all drivers from text messaging while behind the wheel. Currently, only the state’s youngest drivers are forbidden from engaging in the distracting activity.

HB2 would authorize police to pull drivers over solely for texting. Fines would start at $25.

The bills can be considered during the session that starts in February 2012.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Alabama, click here.

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