Posted by Jim Yeargan in Jim's Blog on September 3, 2018
Effective for only a few months, the Hands-Free Georgia Act prohibits drivers in Georgia from touching their smartphones. In addition to small fines, penalties associated with violation of the law do not increase with multiple offenses. While the American Automobile Association reports that approximately 1,000 citations were issued so far, a large number of drivers in the state still report seeing other drivers on the road using cell phones.
While the bill made Georgia the 17th state to adopt hands-free policies, it still remains uncertain just what effect this legislation will have on making Georgia roads safer for motor vehicle drivers. If you have been involved in an accident caused by distracted driving, reach out to a lawyer right away.
The Purpose of the Legislation
In May of 2018, Governor Nathan Deal signed the Hands-Free Georgia Act with the intent to prohibit drivers from operating a motor vehicle while distracted by a cell phone. The text of the law states that any person in the state who operates a motor vehicle is prohibited from holding with any part of their body a wireless communication device or standalone electronic device with the exception of earpiece headphone devices or devices worn to conduct voice-based communication.
The phrase “wireless communication device” includes any cell phone, flip phone, or smart phone as well as laptop computers, tablets, and GPS systems that are not installed in a vehicle. Drivers in the state also are prohibited from reading or sending any text based communication. Certain text messages, however, are excluded from this law including automatically converted voice based communication as well as GPS navigation conducted on a cell phone.
What the New Law Means for You
As a result of the Georgia Hands-Free Act, there is very little that drivers are now able to do with electronic communication devices while driving. While you are able to use Bluetooth earpieces and electronic wrist-watch communication devices, most other activities involving a smart phone are prohibited. You can end up facing violations if law enforcement merely spots you holding a cellular device. This means that even watching a video or sending one text on your device while operating a vehicle can result in a citation.
How to Respond to This Law
To avoid facing a citation under this law, it is a wise idea to invest in hands-free equipment including a Bluetooth earpiece or a device that will hold your phone while it is running a GPS system. Also, if you do want to send a message or take a selfie, you should make sure to wait until you have reached your destination and the vehicle is stopped.
Contact an Experienced Traffic Citation Attorney
Throughout the state of Georgia and the surrounding area, Yeargan & Kert, LLC is recognized as one of the leading traffic citation law firms. We are committed to fighting tirelessly for our clients and the results they deserve. Contact our law office today to schedule an initial free consultation.