Georgia Legislature Passes Hands-Free Georgia Act
How many times have we been on the highway or at a stoplight and looked over at another vehicle, only to see the driver texting? Do these drivers know how truly dangerous that practice is? For years, no one drove distracted because it was obviously so dangerous. These days, with the popularization of smartphones, almost everyone admits to looking at their phone while they are driving.
Georgia Laws Enacted To Prevent Distracted Driving
In order to alleviate the distracted driving problem, Georgia’s Legislature has revved up a new distracted driving law. Just prior to April 1, the Georgia Legislature passed the Hands-Free Georgia Act. Although Georgia already has some distracted driving statutes on the books, the Hands-Free Georgia Act will repeal the existing laws and make it illegal to physically hold or support a cell phone or other electronic device while driving.
Currently, Georgia law prohibits people from texting or sending or reading emails while driving. However, law enforcement officials complained that the prior law was very difficult to enforce because law enforcement couldn’t easily determine whether a driver was texting or dialing a phone number, which was permitted.
Under the Hands-Free Georgia Act, physically holding or supporting a cell phone while driving is now illegal, eliminating the need for officers to determine whether a person is texting or dialing. Simply holding the phone while driving is sufficient for a citation.
Support For The Hands-Free Georgia Act
Supporters of the new law say that Georgia has a public safety emergency and that the roadways are increasingly dangerous. People who drive while texting, talking and being distracted by cell phones and other mobile devices are causing fatal car accidents on a regular basis. Those supporters attribute rising insurance premiums to the increased number of accidents and fatalities on Georgia roadways.
Punishments of Hands-Free Georgia Act
The bill proposes fines of up to $150 for those who repeatedly violate the law. A first offense carries a $75 fine. The bill also provides exceptions for people reporting traffic accidents or emergencies, utility employees responding to utility emergencies and law enforcement officers or emergency personnel performing their duties.
Also, a person in a lawfully parked car can use a mobile device without facing fines. The prior law provided for an increased fine if a person who was driving distracted got involved in an accident while on a mobile device. The new law appears to eliminate that provision. Fifteen other states have similar hands-free laws that make it illegal to hold a cell phone while driving. Add Georgia to the list.
Speak to a Georgia Car Accident Attorney Today
If you are involved in a car accident in Georgia that was caused by distracted driving, feel free to contact our experienced team of car accident attorneys today.
At Andersen, Tate & Carr, our attorneys are dedicated to reaching the best possible outcome for our clients. Our criminal defense attorneys, Patrick McDonough and Trinity Hundredmark, have combined experience of more than 30 years representing clients facing criminal charges in Georgia. For more information, or to request a case evaluation, contact our law office at 1-770-822-0900.