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Georgia’s Texting and Driving Law: The Hands Free Georgia Act

On July 1, 2018, the Georgia hands-free law will take effect for all drivers.  The new law, the Hands Free Georgia Act, amends Georgia’s 2010 anti-texting law and includes new more restrictive laws for drivers using their cell phones.

Why did Georgia’s texting and driving law change?

The new Georgia texting and driving law aims to decrease the number of traffic fatalities on Georgia roads.  In 2017, alone, 1,549 drivers were killed in car accidents.

The big picture is this: Georgia’s new hands-free law aims to prohibit drivers from holding their cellular device while driving.

How to Stay Legal under the Hands-Free Georgia Act

To help better understand Georgia’s new texting and driving law, we’ve compiled a list of the Do’s and Don’ts.

Do’s:

  • Do make and receive hands-free phone calls
  • Do use a cell phone as a GPS device
  • Do use Voice-to-Text features

Don’ts:

  • Don’t cradle or hold a hand-held device
  • Don’t answer emails
  • Don’t watch videos
  • Don’t record videos
  • Don’t use more than one button to answer or use a cell phone

Exceptions:

When a vehicle is legally parked, in a parking space (not in traffic, at a traffic light or stop sign) a driver can use their phone normally.  Individuals such as emergency responders, police officers, firefighters and medical personnel are exempt from the hands-free requirement while performing official duties.

Penalties for Breaking the Hands-Free Georgia Act

  • First time offenders will receive 1 point on their license and a $50 fine.
  • Second time offenders will receive 2 points on their license and $100 fine.
  • Third time offenders will receive 3 points on their license and $150 fine.

The hands-free law is a direct response to the increased number of car accidents and car accident fatalities in Georgia. The majority of these car accidents have been rear-end accidents, single-car accidents and accidents between drivers ages 15 – 25 years old. Local and state law enforcement officials believe that these car accidents are due to driver distraction. There has been a 16% decrease in car accident fatalities in the 15 states that have already passed a similar hands-free law. The decrease alone has provided a sense of hope to Georgia lawmakers as they look for better safety measures on Georgia’s roads.

The Georgia Department of Public Safety has released statements recognizing that the new hands free law will be a “major transition for drivers.” Therefore, there’s a grace-period, based upon police officer discretion, which allows officers to issue warnings to drivers who violate the Hands Free Georgia Act, instead of writing traffic citation.

Alongside government, state and local officials, we too hope that the Hands Free Georgia Act increases driver attentiveness and reduces the number of car accidents in Georgia.  At Kaine Law, we have represented countless car accident victims who have been injured or killed due to car accidents caused by distracted drivers. Please contact our personal injury law firm today to speak with a Georgia car accident lawyer.  We fight for the compensation that you deserve.

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