While the Hands-Free Georgia Act prohibits drivers from holding a cell phone or any other electronic wireless device while driving, many people still prioritize these and other distractions over safe, uninterrupted driving.
Cell phones are a significant part of our lives. Some people find it difficult to refrain from using their phones while driving, which can have devastating consequences. It’s not uncommon for people to text or call friends and family while driving. Others, such as delivery drivers may need to use their phones while working.
To keep customers safe, many automakers have devised innovative safety features in their vehicles that allow drivers to make hands-free phone calls, listen to music or follow GPS directions by using hands-free upgrades, like voice-activated software and steering wheel Bluetooth.
These ever-evolving technologies create opportunities for people to adhere to the Hands-Free Georgia Act and minimize the risk of accidents.
That doesn’t mean hands-free technologies are entirely distraction free. A driver distracted by a hands-free phone call could still run a red light and hit another driver. Although they technically weren’t holding a phone or violating the Hands-Free Georgia Act, their distraction still caused an accident. They would still be liable for any injuries.
What Is the Hands-Free Georgia Act?
The act went into effect in 2018 as an antidote to car, truck and motorcycle accidents caused by distracted driving. According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, one of the leading causes of fatal car crashes are distractions. While the act certainly isn’t a cure-all solution, it does promote road safety by enacting penalties on those who use electronic devices without hands-free technology while driving.
Hands-Free Georgia Act Dos and Don’ts While Driving
According to the act, drivers in Georgia must not hold any electronic wireless devices while driving. While this rule may seem relatively straightforward on the surface, the act involves many intricacies that may not be obvious to all drivers.
What exactly does Georgia law prohibit drivers from doing? Apart from texting and driving, you must also refrain from:
- Reading texts, emails or other content
- Answering emails
- Dialing a phone number
- Recording videos
- Scrolling through social media
- Browsing or changing music playlists, podcasts and audiobooks
- Searching for driving directions
- Using non-Bluetooth headphones or headsets
- Making voice calls via apps like Facetime, WhatsApp or Skype
The act does not stop you from engaging in the following:
- Calling and texting using hands-free technology
- Using built-in navigation or mapping apps (just make sure you set your route prior to driving)
- Listening to music, podcasts or audiobooks as long as you refrain from browsing files while driving
- Using the radio
- Using medical devices
- Wearing and using a smartwatch
Does the Hands-Free Georgia Act Allow any Exceptions?
Georgia law does allow the use of electronic devices in certain circumstances. If you’re driving down a road and witness something suspicious happening in the car next to you, like a child screaming for help or a driver who’s falling asleep and swerving, you can use your cellphone to call 911.
Situations that allow you to use electronic devices include:
- Reporting an accident or medical emergency
- Reporting a crime
- Reporting a fire
- Reporting debris on the road or other hazardous conditions
What Are the Consequences of Not Adhering to the Hands-Free Georgia Act?
The penalties for violating the act may appear lenient, but they become increasingly harsh for serial offenders. If you’re a first-time offender, you can expect to pay a $50 fine and receive one point on your license. Georgia gives first-time violators the opportunity to purchase hands-free safety devices and present proof of purchase in court to have their charges dropped.
Your second conviction will double your initial penalty, meaning you’ll be fined $100 and receive two points. The third conviction will result in a $150 fine and three points. It’s important to note that convictions only accumulate if you’ve committed these offences within two years of the first conviction.
Repeat offenders who’ve accumulated several convictions within 24 months can expect hefty fines and even a suspended license.
Contact an Experienced Car Wreck Injury Lawyer in Atlanta if You’ve Been Injured By Distracted Driving
Adhering to the Hands-Free Georgia law doesn’t exempt you from liability if you injure another person. Atlanta residents who’ve suffered injuries because of distracted driving should contact a competent personal injury lawyer.