Family members of the late Leah Grace Tarvin joined Gov. Kay Ivey at the State Capitol bill signing ceremony recently for Alabama’s new hands-free driving law.
Tarvin, a Holly Pond resident, tragically lost her life last November after being hit by an automobile as she walked in a crosswalk at Jacksonville State University. The driver has been charged with criminally negligent homicide in a potential distracted driving case.
“The legislation failed multiple times in previous years, but the tragedy of Leah’s death proved the need,” Shedd said. “This case demonstrates the devastation that districted driving had on two families and hundreds of friends, and I am glad we were able to honor Leah Grace Tarvin’s memory with passage of this law.”
“If this law prevents even one more person from being killed, hurt, or seriously injured by a distracted driver, it will have accomplished its purpose,” Shedd added. “Too many Alabamians have been lost because drivers could not wait to check social media, send a text, change a song, or do any of the other things that today’s 21st Century smartphones and mobile devices allow.”
Tarvin’s mother, Cindy, held tight to a photo of her daughter as Ivey signed the bill into law. Her father, Mark Tarvin, grandmother, Lou Thomas, and legislators who played an active role in passing the legislation joined in the ceremony, as well.
Using a mobile device while driving or holding one while operating a vehicle is now illegal under the provisions of the law.
As a secondary charge, officers may not stop a driver specifically for holding a phone, but the offense can be added to a ticket if the operator is cited for another offense.
The fine for an initial violation is $50, but the fine increases with each subsequent violation and will also negatively impact a violator’s driving record.