What Georgia’s Hands-Free Law Means
Starting July 1, all GA drivers on any highway or road are prohibited from holding their phone or supporting it with their body at all. Officials have stated that there is no 90-day grace period, meaning they will give you a ticket if you are caught.
The direct law states:
- You cannot hold or support a wireless telecommunications device or any stand-alone electronic device with your hands or any part of your body while driving your vehicle.
- You cannot write, read or send any texts while driving your vehicle.
- You cannot watch, record, or broadcast any type of video or movie while driving your vehicle. (This includes FaceTime or Skype, even if hands-free!)
- You cannot reach over and grab your phone if that means you need to stand up or unseatbelt.
The penalties include:
1st Conviction – 1 point on your license and $50.00 fee
2nd Conviction – 2 points on your license and $100.00 fee
3rd or More Convictions – 3 points on your license and $150.00 fee
There is no grace period! Officials will immediately give you a ticket if caught.
You can only answer emails, watch or record videos, and otherwise use your phone when legally parked! Remember, legally parked does not mean stopping at a red light or in standstill traffic, so even if it is very tempting, restrain from using or holding your phone.
What You Can Do
A common misconception of the law is that you cannot use your phone, but the law only states that GA drivers cannot physically hold or support it with their bodies.
Instead of holding your phone to send a text, you can use voice-to-text communication.
You cannot watch or record videos, but you are free to watch GPS/navigational videos as long as no parts of your body is touching the electronic device.
You are only allowed to use one button (one swipe) to answer or use your cell phone, so making calls hands-free with a Bluetooth piece or single-ear headphones would be most helpful. You can even use regular earbuds with built-in mics to make your calls!
You are still allowed to handle your electronic devices in emergency situations, such as reporting a traffic accident, a fire, a medical emergency, a crime or delinquent act, or hazardous road conditions.
You are still allowed to use radios, CB radios, CB radio hybrids, commercial two-way radios, prescribed medical devices, amateur or ham radios, and other “in-vehicle security, navigation or remote diagnostics systems”.
Exceptions to the law: police, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, ambulance drivers and others performing official duties as fire responders or utility contractors and employees responding to an emergency.
Although it may be difficult for drivers to adjust to the law, GA officials are hoping that this change will decrease traffic deaths. Other states who have implemented a similar type of law have already experienced a 16% drop in traffic deaths.
We will keep you updated as the year goes on with what tools/devices may help in making the transition go smoother, how the law has impacted GA traffic-related deaths, if it has worked or not worked in making our roads safer, and more.
Be sure to check back with us and safe driving to you all!
Pic – https://patch.com/georgia/johnscreek/reminder-hands-free-law-goes-effect-july-1