How Does the Georgia Distracted Driving Law Affect Me?

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How does the new Georgia Distracted Driving Law affect me?

By Amanda Lavery

Gov. Nathan Deal recently signed House Bill 673, commonly referred to as the Distracted Driving Law or the Hands Free Georgia Act, which goes into effect on July 1, 2018.  The new law is an attempt to address the significant increase in traffic fatalities on Georgia roadways by requiring drivers to use hands-free technology when behind the wheel.

 The new law prohibits drivers from the following:

  • Handling a “wireless telecommunication device” while driving. This means you can’t have your device in your hand, between your shoulder and ear, or even in your lap.
  • Writing, sending or reading text messages, emails, or any kind of electronic communications.
  • Watching a video or movie (other than your GPS).
  • Recording a video.

What is still allowed?

Drivers can still use their cellphones but you have to use a hands-free adaptor, whether it is Bluetooth through your car speakers or one of those earpieces that people wear. (We all have that one friend who still wears these, right?) You can still use your GPS navigation but with some restrictions.

What is the punishment?

A first conviction will result in a $50.00 fine. If you are convicted a second time, within 24-months, you will face a fine of $100.00.  Conviction is the key word in the punishments. Always remember that with any traffic citation you receive, you also have the opportunity to appear in court and contest the violation.

The new law doesn’t just ban electronic devices?

The new law has garnered a lot of attention because it basically bans everyone from using their cellphones while driving but the law actually makes it illegal to use (do)  anything that will distract drivers from safely operating their vehicles.

“[a] driver shall exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle on the highways of this state and shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle.” (emphasis added) O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241(b)

This would include any distracting action committed by the driver. A mom turning around to speak to her children in the back, a lady putting on her mascara in the rear view mirror, eating, all of these can be considered distracted driving and could very well result in a citation.

Educate Yourself:

CobbTV, Cobb County Police and Marietta Police worked together to prepare a new Public Service Announcement that summarizes the law in three minutes. Please click here and educate yourself about the rules (but don’t do it while driving):  JUMP TO VIDEO

Marietta Police Department also created a handout highlighting key portions of the new law. Hands Free Georgia download.

 

We hope you have found this information helpful. Rest assured Georgia officers will not hesitate to begin pulling cars over and issuing citations on July 1st. Now is the right time to purchase and install your hands free devices for yourself and your teen drivers!

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