Georgia became the 17th state to pass a hands-free law for cell phones. On July 1, 2018, this new law went into effect. Prior to July 1, Georgia had a law banning texting while driving. This new law essentially bans almost all use of cell phones while driving. It is illegal to have a cell phone in your hand or touching any part of your body while driving.
Laws such as this have been passed across the country over the past couple of years. In Georgia, the law was pushed hard by Craig and Kathy Clark of Cobb County. Their daughter Emily was killed in 2015. A tractor-trailer driver was using his cell phone while driving. He crashed into her car while it was stopped in traffic. She was killed.
Car Accident Attorneys Prepare for New Law
Car accident attorneys in Atlanta are ready to defend their clients under this new law. However, police have said they want to use these first few months to educate drivers rather than punish. As of now, they have only been issuing warnings under the new rules. However, soon they will be issuing tickets for all violations. Their hope is that by October 1, 2018, all drivers will comply.
What Is Not Allowed Under the New Law?
The new law bans certain activities and allows other activities. It is important that you know what is and is not allowed. The Hands-Free law is very specific. According to the Hands-Free Law, you cannot do the following:
- Hold your phone in your hand
- Let the phone touch your body in any way
- Watch videos while driving
- Use your phone to record while driving
- Start or adjust your streaming music on any device while on the road
- Text while driving
A good rule of thumb is not to touch your phone at all while you are driving in Atlanta, GA. Even a hands-free device can be illegal if it touches your body in any way. If you want to avoid a ticket and fine, put your cell phone away while you are on the road. You can always pull over or stop somewhere if you run into an emergency and need your phone.
What Is Allowed Under the Hands-Free Law?
The new law does not totally ban cell phones. You are allowed to use your phone for certain things while you are driving. Remember, though, you must use a hands-free setting. So, whether you are using a tablet, phone or another device, it must have a hands-free mode. Under the new Hands-Free Law, you can:
- Use voice-to-text communication
- Use your navigation or GPS. This isn’t considered a video.
- Use a continuously running dashcam.
- Listen to streaming music. You just have to make sure you turn it on and select your station prior to driving. You are not allowed to touch the app while on the road and you will not be allowed to change tracks or playlists.
As you can see, the goal of this new law is for you to just focus on driving. It will help you avoid a ticket and keep you safe.
Do I Need a Car Accident Attorney?
The new hands-free law carries stiff penalties. A car accident attorney can look at your record and let you know how the new law affects you. The penalties depend on your prior record. They are also based on what level of offense you have committed. The penalties are as follows:
- 1st Offense is $50 fine and 1 point on your driver’s license
- 2nd Offense is $100 fine and 2 points on your record
- 3rd Offense is $150 fine and 3 points on your license
The court will only count offenses within 24 months. If there have been at least 2 years between offenses, the court will treat the new case as a first offense. The judge may also dismiss the charges for a first offense. If you can show the court that you have bought a hands-free device, the judge will dismiss the charges. You must have the device to show the court on your court date.
Call a Car Accident Lawyer at the Weinstein Law Firm
The new law can be confusing. You may still have questions about what is and isn’t considered illegal. Call the Weinstein Law Firm in Atlanta, Georgia at 954-757-7500 for a free consultation. We can go over your case and see how best to help you.