MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WALA) - Starting August 1, if you get behind the wheel in Alabama, you'd better put down that cell phone.
Governor Robert Bentley signed a law banning sending text messages while driving on May 8.
For more than a year, FOX10 News has been urging you to "wait to text". Texting while driving is a potentially dangerous practice and, starting in August, it's banned in the state of Alabama.
Bentley said, "Just like the seat belt law saved lives to remind people to wear their seat belts, I think this will at least remind people that you should not text and drive at the same time."
The new law imposes fines on drivers for violations: $25 for the first offense then $50, and $75. Each offense also adds a two-point violation to the offender's driving record.
There are exceptions to the law, such as using the phone for emergency services, or for GPS navigation.
State officials say officers will use discretion when charging people under the law, but if they spot you texting and driving, they can pull you over.
"You know, it doesn't take a lot of common sense to know that you can't text and drive at the same time," said Bentley.
Statistics show that, on average, your eyes are taken off the road for about 5 seconds while texting behind the wheel. In that amount of time, you can drive the length of a football field in highway traffic.
State troopers say in 2010 Alabama had more than 1,200 accidents and five deaths tied to texting.
The governor admits the fines are small, but it mostly serves as a reminder, that it only takes one text to take away a life.
Federal authorities say an Alabama man has been charged in a slaying at an Army post in southeast Georgia, but officials are releasing few details about the case.
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