Georgia's New Hands Free Law
Beginning on July 1, 2018, an important new law will go in to effect in Georgia. Like more and more other states around the United States, Georgia will implement a new "hands free law" for its drivers. This means that any drivers in the state are prohibited from physically holding or supporting, with any part of their body, a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device to make a phone call, unless there's a hands free bluetooth, wrist-based, headphone, or earpiece to operate the call.
The law also prohibits read, writing, or sending any electronic communications while driving. There are exceptions for devices that automatically convert texts to voice, and the law does permit the use of GPS devices through phones or on their own.
It is also illegally to watch video while driving or record video inside the video while driving (devices which continuously record video outside the vehicle are allowed).
For commercial drivers, any device which can't be initiated or terminated with 1 button cannot be used to make a call. This exception is designed to allow the use of CB radios for truck drivers.
There are also exceptions so that the law does not apply to reporting a traffic accident, hazard, or other emergency, for utility workers responding to emergencies, to law enforcement/first responders while performing their duties, or anyone legally parked. The law does NOT allow people to use a phone while stopped at a red light or in traffic.
The penalty for a first violation in a 2 year period is a $50 fine and 1 point on one's driving record. For a 2nd in 2 years, the penalties increase to $100 and 2 points. For a 3rd in 2 years, it's $150 and 3 points.
Another important part of this law is that you're able to provide proof of a hands free device or purchase of a hands free device in court, you shall NOT be guilty of this offense. You can use this once and must affirm to the court that you have not used this exception in a previous court.
It will be interesting to see how law enforcement enforces this law and if it used as a basis for making traffic stops in hopes of detecting more serious crimes such as DUI or drug possession. If you have any questions or receive a citation for this offense, contact Kyle Jarzmik.