Hands-Free Georgia Act goes into Effect
As of July 1st, all drivers in Georgia will need to keep their phones out of their hands while driving or face some stiff consequences. The state has joined the majority of others in America in creating an official law to prevent distract driving.
The new rules
The basis of the law is that, with a few exceptions, you can now only make or receive phone calls while operating a vehicle if you are using a handless feature such as a speakerphone, wireless headset, earpiece, car stereo, smart watch or other bluetooth device to make the call.
If you want to make a phone call from your car the old fashioned way (with your hand), you will need to be legally parked.
The law also means you can no longer legally read or send texts, emails, or look at social media or the internet while operating a vehicle.
Here's a more thorough breakdown of the laws according to Heads up Georgia:
- A driver cannot have a phone in their hand or use any part of their body to support their phone. Drivers can only use their phones to make or receive phone calls by using speakerphone, earpiece, wireless headphone, phone is connected to vehicle or an electronic watch. GPS navigation devices are allowed.
- Headsets and earpieces can only be worn for communication purposes and not for listening to music or other entertainment.
- A driver may not send or read any text-based communication unless using voice-based communication that automatically converts message to a written text or is being used for navigation or GPS
- A driver may not write, send or read any text messages, e-mails, social media or internet data content
- A driver may not watch a video unless it is for navigation.
- A driver may not record a video (continuously running dash cams are exempt)
- Music streaming apps can be used provided the driver activates and programs them when they are parked. Drivers cannot touch their phones to do anything to their music apps when they are on the road. Music streaming apps that include video also are not allowed since drivers cannot watch videos when on the road. Drivers can listen to and program music streaming apps that are connected to and controlled through their vehicle's radio.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. In this case, the exceptions are mostly in place for service workers such as police officers and first responders responding to emergencies. But any citizen can also be exempt from the normal rules if they are reporting a traffic accident, hazardous road conditions, criminal activity, medical emergencies, or a disaster such as a fire.
Bottom line, it's only legal for you to use your phone with your hand in a vehicle if it's an emergency or you're an emergency vehicle.
The Penalties and Punishment
While officers will have the option of issuing warning, there is no official grace period when the law takes effect, so as of July 1st if you can get caught violating the law the following penalties can be enforced:
- First Violation - 1 demerit points and a fine up to $50
- Second Violation - 2 demerit points and a fine up to $100
- Third (and subsequent) Violations - 3 demerit points and a fine up to $150
While these laws may seem pesky to some, keep in mind that the reason they are coming into place is because there are a lot of injuries and deaths caused by distracted driving. By following these new laws, you can help our community stay safe while keeping money in your wallet and your driving record clean.
We've provided a summary of the key points we think you should know about the new law, but be sure to take a quick read of the official law here for the full picture.
And if you have any questions about how to set your phone up properly to be hands-free feel free to stop by our shop 🙂