Earlier this year, we discussed the risks associated with using hands-free devices while driving. Georgia’s Hands-Free Law took effect July 1, 2018. Drivers now cannot have a phone in their hands or touching any part of their bodies while driving. But while the law is an important safety step, its implications are not entirely clear.
The Hands-Free Georgia Law explained
The only time you're allowed to use a handheld device while driving in Georgia is if you're reporting an accident or emergency or making a phone call. Aside from that, it is unlawful to use a handheld device unless your vehicle is parked (which means in a legal parking space, not just stopped at a traffic light). Drivers are, however, allowed to wear smartwatches and earpieces.
Those in support of Georgia’s new distracted driving law hope that it will mitigate fatal traffic accidents and make the public aware of how dangerous distracted driving really is. The law may be complex, and drivers may be confused as to what is legal and what is not. However, the Hands-Free Georgia Law (HB673) may leave some loopholes open, such as drivers being able to program a GPS.
One of the bill's sponsors, State Rep. John Carson, R-Marietta, has acknowledged the positive effects of the bill. In 2018, traffic fatalities have reduced around 10 percent when compared to the same time in 2017. Carson attributes the decline to the law's publicity, as well as a public more aware of the risks.
However, Carson urges drivers not to become fixated on what's legal or illegal.
“If people are asking about all these scenarios, they’re missing the larger objective,” he said. “Ask yourself, do you want someone doing that while driving behind your wife and children?”
The law was initially introduced in January, at a time when fines imposed for distracted driving were $150 for a first offense and $900 for a subsequent offense. Those fines have been reduced to $50 for a first offense and $150 for a subsequent offense.
Additionally, lawmakers included a provision that lets first offenders off the hook if they can produce a receipt for a hands-free device before a judge.
Jon Hawk Law has seen the devastation caused by distracted driving and is ready to fight for you. If you have been injured in a crash, contact an experienced auto accident attorney in Macon, Georgia today.