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New 'Hands Free' Georgia law for motorists in effect July 1

June 04, 2018

Driving with phoneThe Governor’s Office of Highway Safety reminds us that the new “Hands Free” Georgia law related to the use of electronic devices while driving goes into effect on July 1 of this year.  The law applies to stand-alone electronic devices, which include those that store audio and video files, and wireless telecommunications devices such as cell phones, portable telephones or text-messaging devices, stand-alone computers, etc.  The new law also outlines restrictions for bus drivers and commercial motor vehicle operators as well.  Key points:
 
Prohibited
Holding or supporting, with any part of the body, a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device (for example, an iPod).
 
Writing, sending or reading any text-based communication, including a text message, instant message, e-mail or internet data while holding your device.
 
Watching a video or movie other than watching data related to the navigation of your vehicle (i.e., your mapping app or GPS screen).
 
Recording a video.
 
Permitted
Speaking or texting while using hands-free technology.
 
Using a GPS system or mapping app.
 
Wearing and using a smart watch.
 
Using an earpiece to talk on the phone.
 
Using radios, CB radios, CB radio hybrids, commercial two-way radios, subscription-based emergency communication devices, prescribed medical devices, amateur or ham radios and “in-vehicle security, navigation or remote diagnostics” systems.
 
There are circumstances where you can handle an electronic device while driving: Reporting a traffic accident, medical emergency, fire, a crime or delinquent act or a hazardous road condition. You can also use your hands if you’re lawfully parked (not at a stoplight – “lawfully” means off or beside the road in an area open to parking).
 
Exemptions
Under official duties, police, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, ambulance drivers, and other first responders.  Also, utility employees or contractors responding to a utility emergency.
 
Penalties
Penalties range from 1 point and $50 to 3 points and $150 between the first and third violations.
 
View the full details of the new law.