Posted by Jim Yeargan in Jim's Blog on July 9, 2018
Distracted driving has become an increasingly dangerous problem throughout the United States, leading to an alarming increase in motor vehicle fatalities. Georgia has not escaped this trend with thousands of men, women, and children being victims of distracted driving-related accidents annually.
In an effort to save lives and reduce accidents, the state of Georgia has enacted a new distracted driving law that changes the way all drivers operate their motor vehicles. To avoid making a potentially costly mistake, these are the Georgia hands-free rules you need to know.
Propping a Phone With Your Body
Inconvenient console location, fear of mobile devices overheating, and other concerns make some drivers afraid of using stands or unwilling to leave their phones in potentially hard to reach locations. A seemingly convenient workaround that many drivers use is propping their phones on their leg, stomach, or even chest.
While doing this might seem like a way to avoid being penalized for having a “hand” on your phone, in reality, you are still setting yourself up for trouble. The new law does not allow you to have a phone “touching any part of your body,” so that means propping up your phone with a body part is no longer an option.
Many drivers attempt to stay safe without sacrificing the convenience of their mobile devices by using their phones only at stoplights. This usage has brought the Internet viral footage of many comical incidents but in Georgia, it is no longer allowed. Drivers cannot use their phones in Georgia at stoplights and that includes using phones to record videos or even changing your Spotify playlist.
The law does allow drivers to control the music on their phones using their vehicle’s Bluetooth controls and dash cams are also allowed. Using navigational services is still allowed, and exceptions to the recording rules can be made in emergency situations such as traffic accidents or for reporting crimes.
For those who are tempted to ignore Georgia’s new hands-free laws, make sure that you are aware of the potential penalties. The fine for a first-time offense is currently $50, but the fine goes up to $150 for a second offense. It is possible that the fines may increase over time since the initial draft of the law proposed up to $900 in fines for repeat offenders.
Right now Georgia drivers have a chance to grow used to the new laws, but compliance is important if you want to avoid being labeled a repeat offender.
Understanding the New Laws
The new laws are complicated since they require learning the multiple exceptions while staying aware of what previously common cell phone habits are no longer legal. To remain safe, most drivers should limit their cell phone usage when they are parked in an area where it is legal to park a car.
If you do make a mistake and find yourself facing a fine, contact the attorneys at Yeargan & Kert. Our legal team will help you decide how best to respond to the citation while providing you with the advice you need. Reach out to us today to make an appointment so that we can begin discussing your individual needs.