All drivers should know the rules of the road to keep themselves and other drivers safe. These laws often change, and as a driver, you have a responsibility to stay up to date and understand them.
Georgia passed its Hands-Free Act two years ago to reduce accidents in the state. The law comes with penalties for driving with a cell phone and other technology in your hands, and violating it can leave a mark on your driving record and your wallet.
If you’ve been charged with an offense related to the Hands-Free Georgia Act or suffered an injury as a result of a violation of this law, contact one of our personal injury lawyers. Our attorneys can help you understand and fight for your rights while you recover.
What is the Hands-Free Georgia Act?
The Hands-Free Georgia Act took effect on July 1, 2018. It states that drivers can’t have a cell phone or similar technology in their hands or touching any part of their body while they drive. That means you can’t keep your phone in your lap or tucked between your ear and shoulder while you travel.
The law prohibits drivers from doing the following while driving:
- Writing or sending texts
- Reading messages
- Watching videos
- Using the internet
- Posting on social media
- Recording videos
Drivers can listen to music, but only if the device allows for hands-free listening and programming on the road. For example, you can listen to your favorite playlist, but you can’t pick up your phone to switch to another if you decide you would rather listen to something else.
There are a few exceptions to this law. If you witness a crash or a crime while driving, you can use your phone to report it. That applies to any other emergency, too, including urgent medical cases.
Suppose you are a first responder performing official duties or an employee or contractor responding to on-call responsibilities related to your work. In that case, you may also qualify as an exception to the rule. Lastly, if you use your phone in a lawfully parked vehicle, you can pick up your phone to use it. However, the definition of lawfully parked doesn’t include stopping at a stoplight or stop signs.
If you are in an accident and need help determining whether you violated this law, our skilled auto accident attorneys are happy to help.
What Does the Hands-Free Law Mean for Drivers?
The Hands-Free Georgia Act limits how drivers can use cell phones and technology. You can still use your phone in your vehicle, as long as you don’t need to touch it to do so. For example, voice to text doesn’t violate the law in the same way physical typing does. You can also use and program your GPS, as long as you don’t need to use your hands for it.
Georgia passed its hands-free law after the state saw an increase in rear-end collisions on the road. Many of these accidents involved drivers between the ages of 15 and 25 on a handheld device.
At the time Georgia passed its law, 15 other states had already passed similar legislation. These states saw a dramatic decrease in accidents and fatalities within the first two years after the law took effect.
What Are the Penalties for Violating Georgia’s Hands-Free Law?
Our car accident lawyers can help you understand the penalties for violating the Hand’s Free law, but we’ll provide a brief overview here. At first glance, these penalties may appear minor. However, they get steeper for repeat offenders.
Your first conviction will result in one point on your license and a $50 fine. A second conviction doubles the fine and point-penalty. With a third conviction, you must pay a $150 fine, and the state will add three points to your record.
You will only receive second or subsequent convictions if these offenses occur within two years of the first. For example, if you violate the law in 2020 and gain one point and a $50 fine, then get convicted again in 2024, that offense will also count as a first conviction.
However, if you have several convictions in 24 months, you could face fines of $300 or more. You may also have your license suspended.
First-time offenders can have the charges against them dropped if they show the court that they have gotten a device that allows for hands-free technology use. If you want to know more about how to get charges dropped or need representation for an accident involving a Hands-Free Georgia Act violation, get in touch with our office to talk to an auto accident lawyer.
Work with a Skilled Personal Injury Attorney
A car accident attorney can help you understand your rights if you are involved in an accident where you or another driver failed to obey the Hands-Free Georgia Act. At Greathouse Trial Law, we can connect you with a personal injury lawyer who will represent you in court and build a comprehensive case for you.
Contact us today at 678-369-9411 to schedule a consultation and learn more about the Hands-Free Georgia Act.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
Copyright© 2020. Greathouse Trial Law. All Rights Reserved
Greathouse Trial Law
260 Peachtree Street NW Suite 803
Atlanta, GA 30303