On July 1, 2018, a new Georgia law goes into effect that may require some changes to your commute. The “Hands-Free Law,” signed by Governor Deal earlier this year, essentially states that a driver operating a motor vehicle may not hold a phone in his or her hand or allow the phone to rest on a part of his or her body at any time. This means that phone calls must be made using speakerphone, a Bluetooth device, headset, or through a Bluetooth system integrated into the vehicle. You may touch your phone once to initiate, answer, or end a call so long as the phone is not resting on you. Texting or sending other electronic communication is also forbidden by the law, as is watching or recording any kind of video. This means that Skype, Facetime, and other video-conference apps are not allowed. Music streaming apps such as Spotify or Pandora may be used, but you must activate the app while parked and may not touch your device thereafter (but note that you cannot use apps that include video).
The law applies even if you are stopped at a red light or stop sign, or stuck in traffic.
What about GPS?
Most of us rely on our phones for their GPS capabilities. Fortunately, you can still use your GPS device as long as you are not touching the device while it is operating.
Are there exceptions?
There are a few exceptions to the law. You may use your device to report a medical emergency, fire, traffic accident, hazardous conditions, or criminal activity. Law enforcement and other first responders are exempt from the law so long as they are acting within the scope of their duties. And you may use your device when in a legally parked vehicle.
What are the penalties?
The penalties are as follows:
- For a 1st Conviction – 1 point and a $50.00 fine.
- For a 2nd Conviction – 2 points and a $100.00 fine.
- For a 3rd or Subsequent Conviction – 3 points and a $150.00 fine.
Keep in mind that there is no 90-day grace period for enforcement of this law. While law enforcement may give you a warning, they do not have to.
Getting a ticket for violating Georgia’s new Hands-Free Law may seem like no big deal. However, points add up quickly and getting enough points may result in suspension of your driver’s license. If you are charged with violation of this new law or if you just have questions about it, call me or text me today.