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Everything You Need to Know About Georgia’s Hands-Free LawSabrina
All drivers in Georgia should be aware of the laws and regulations of the road to keep themselves and others safe. Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of car accidents, claiming over 3,000 lives in 2019. Texting and driving has become the most dangerous act of distracted driving, according to the NHTSA. Georgia implemented the Hands-Free Law to help decrease distracted driving and car accidents.
What Is Georgia’s Hands-Free Law?
To help decrease car accidents in the state, Georgia implemented its Hands-Free Act (House Bill 673) on July 1, 2018. Georgia became the 16th state in the United States to implement a hands-free driving law that outlaws all drivers from using mobile cell phones while driving in Georgia.
The Hands-Free law in Georgia prohibits the following:
- Reading, writing or sending text messages or emails
- Taking photos or recording videos
- Using the internet
- Posting on a social media platform
- Holding a phone in your hand or another part of your body
The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) saw an increase in traffic accidents, injuries, and fatalities. Common types of accidents include rear-end and single-car crashes as a result of distracted drivers on their mobile devices.
Penalties and Fines For Violating Hands-Free Law
If you get caught with your mobile device while driving in Georgia, there is a list of penalties you may be subject to. The following are put in place for convicted drivers:
- First Conviction: $50.00 fine and one point added toward a suspended license
- Second Conviction: $100.00 fine and two points added toward a suspended license
- Third and Subsequent Convictions: $150.00 fine and three points added toward a suspended license.
It is important to note that a driver with 15 points in a 2 year period will have their license suspended in the state of Georgia. To qualify for a Points Reduction, you must complete a certified defensive driving course. According to O.C.G.A §40-5-86, up to 7 points can be reduced once every 5 years, so it is important to continue to follow Georgia traffic laws.
Are There Any Exceptions?
Georgia’s Hands-Free Act does have several exceptions allowing drivers to:
- Use their phone on speaker, Bluetooth, or wireless headphones to make and receive calls.
- Hold their phone to report a fire, motor vehicle accident, medical emergency, suspicious activity, or rough road conditions.
- Stream music as long as the driver does not touch their phones while on the road.
- Use their phone while parked legally – this does not include red lights or stop signs.
First responders and law enforcement officers are able to utilize their electronic devices when performing official on-the-job duties.
Parental Influence on Teenager Driving
Parents play a vital role in influencing their teen’s driving habits. According to a study published by Atlanta injury attorneys at BMW Law Group, 40 percent of teenagers have texted while driving. The study also reported that 83 percent of teenagers state that their parents have engaged in unsafe driving behaviors while they were in the car.
Parents should take an active role when they are behind the wheel with their teenagers to help prevent car accidents from happening. If a parent engages in distracted driving, it only encourages their teenager that this behavior is acceptable.
What States Have Banned Cell Phone Use While Driving?
The following states have a Hand-held Cell Phone Use Ban:
|Arizona||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|California||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|Connecticut||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|Washington D.C.||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|Delaware||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|Georgia||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|Hawaii||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|Idaho||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|Illinois||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|Indiana||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|Massachusetts||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|Maryland||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|Maine||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|Minnesota||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|New Hampshire||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|New Jersey||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|Nevada||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|New York||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|Oregon||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|Rhode Island||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|Tennessee||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|Virginia||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|Vermont||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|Washington||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
|West Virginia||Hand-Held Ban: All Drivers All Zones|
Information from Governors Highway Safety Administration.
Although the Georgia Hands-Free Act has been in place since 2018, distracted driving accidents still continue to occur. 2021 distracted driver data from the Georgia Department of Driver Services reports that over 52,000 Georgia residents 52,148 were in violation of the Hands-Free Act. This is about a 27% increase in violations from the year 2020.