Scholle Law, an Atlanta area based injury and accident law firm writes blogs and articles for the purpose of sharing important information relating to motor vehicle accidents and Georgia personal injury law. Many of the topics come from real questions from current or past clients as well as timely and relevant news related to the firm’s practice areas. In this article, an Atlanta car accident attorney discusses Georgia’s hands free law.
Many of the accidents that the firm handles are caused by distracted drivers. Since the age of the smart phone began over 10+ years ago, more and more people have been injured in accidents related to distracted driving. With technology and various types of tools and devices, there is no reason for having your hands on a smart phone while engaged in driving. These accidents are preventable!
This content includes information about the 2018 law as well as some information on a legal loophole that a Georgia law maker wants to change. As always, if you have any questions about this information or a case related to distracted driving or other negligence, contact Scholle Law today for a free case evaluation with an experienced Atlanta texting accident attorney.
Georgia’s hands free driving law
In 2018, the Georgia passed its hands-free law. The specific language of the law can be found here. For the sake of brevity we will not go over every piece. What is important to know is the following paraphrased by the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety:
- Drivers cannot have a phone in their hand or touching any part of their body while talking on their phone while driving.
- Even with hands-free technology, drivers cannot write, read or send text messages, e-mails, social media content and other internet data while on the road. (Voice to text is allowed)
- Drivers cannot watch videos when they are on the road. (Navigational/GPS videos are allowed)
- Drivers cannot use their phones or electronic devices to record video when they are on the road. (Continuously running dash cams are allowed)
Additionally the penalties for breaking the law are as follows:
The fine for a first conviction is $50.00 and 1 point assessed against the driver’s license. The fine is $100.00 and 2 points for a second conviction and $150.00 and 3 points for three or more conviction. The fines for a 2nd or 3rd offense only apply when date of a 2nd or 3rd conviction takes place within 24 months of the date of the first conviction. First time offenders can have the charge dropped by showing the court they have obtained a device that allows them to talk on a phone with hands-free technology or devices.
Georgia’s hands-free driving law back in the news
News outlets are reporting that a Georgia House Member is trying to change the law to close a legal loophole that a lot of people are not aware of. The law as is allows first-time offenders of the hands-free driving law to go before a judge with a receipt or other proof that they have bought hands-free driving equipment such as a device to hold the phone or wireless headphones, etc. If someone shows that they have gone out and purchased this equipment then they can get out of the ticket.
While many people think that may be a fair solution and maybe even a teachable moment, there is concern that people could be ticketed and excused for the offense in multiple cities, towns and jurisdictions across Georgia because all of those different courts would not be keeping track of the violations. The Georgia lawmaker behind this push wants to get rid of the provision in the 2018 hands-free law and make sure that people are fined and convicted for their first offense as the law provides for. By doing this there is a better chance of stopping habitual offenders.
Atlanta texting accident attorney
While some studies show that the vast majority of Georgian’s are aware of the law, that has not necessarily meant a total eradication of texting related accidents or motor vehicle crashes caused by distracted driving. Unfortunately our office still receives calls from people injured in accidents caused by distracted or texting drivers. It is not uncommon for a potential client to comment that they believe the driver that hit them was holding their phone or texting at the time of the accident. In some cases drivers are cited for the conduct. In other cases, law enforcement officers decide against pursuing the charges.
The act of texting and driving or holding your phone to text or read is against the law in Georgia. It is not only against the law but it is dangerous. Distracted driving related injuries include soft tissue injuries but can also be as serious as neck and back injuries, broken bones and catastrophic situations involving paralysis and even death. The vast majority of car accidents are caused by negligence, something that many people believe to be an accident.
With texting and driving the situation is something else completely. These drivers know it is against the law and that it is dangerous. While they do not generally have any intent to cause harm, they are engaged in unlawful and arguably negligent conduct that is 100% preventable. Drivers that do break Georgia’s hands-free driving law will not cause texting related or distracted driving related injury accidents.
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