Georgia’s new hands-free cell phone driving law came into effect on July 1. This hotly-debated piece of legislation means drivers can no longer hold phones and drive.
There is some confusion about the law. Basically, drivers can no longer hold phones and drive. That is the biggest change and one that’s likely to lead to more traffic offenses. Hands-free cell phones can be used.
The new law is intended to curtail injuries and deaths from distracted driving. Although texting at the wheel is already illegal in Georgia, the new law has more teeth. It can be difficult for a police officer to know if you are texting when you are pulled over. Under the new law, if an officer sees you holding a device you may be stopped.
Under Georgia’s new hands-free cell phone driving law:
- A driver is banned from having a phone in his or her hands or using any other part of his or her body to support a phone.
- Headsets and earpieces can only be worn for communication purposes. They may not be used for listening to music or other entertainment purposes.
- Drivers can only use their phones to make or receive calls via earpiece, speakerphone, or wireless headphone or if the phone is connected to the vehicle itself or an electronic watch.
- Drivers are prohibited from sending or reading any text-based communication unless they are voice-based services like Siri or Alexa that automatically convert messages to written text.
- Drivers are banned from sending, writing, or reading any text messages, emails, data on apps, social media or other internet data content.
- A driver cannot watch a video unless it is for navigation purposes.
- A driver may not record a video. However, dashcams that run continuously are exempt from this rule.
The new law allows the use of GPS apps like Google Maps or Waze as long as the address or other navigational data is entered before a motorist starts driving or the navigational data is relayed via voice-based input.
Exceptions to the Hand-Held Phone Prohibition
A motorist may use a hand-held phone in some circumstances, including:
- When reporting a traffic crash, fire, medical emergency, criminal activity or dangerous road condition.
- When the user is an employee or a contractor of a utility service provider acting within the scope of his or her employment while responding to a utility emergency.
- When a first responder such as a police officer or firefighter is acting in their official duty.
- When the vehicle is lawfully parked. This does not include vehicles stopped at stop signs or red lights.
Distracted driving is linked to thousands of deaths every year in the United States. It is a particular problem in the southern states. If you have been hurt by a distracted driver, call the Law Office of Michael West at (404) 913-1529.