July 1st is a landmark day for transportation safety in Georgia when the new Hands-Free Georgia Act goes into effect. This law was passed by the Georgia General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal during the last session. Many questions are surrounding this new law as Georgians try to figure out what they can and cannot do with their phones while on the road. The following is a brief description of what the law states and some frequently asked questions. If you are interested in more information you can find an indepth look at the law here.
Hands-Free Driving Act
- A driver cannot have a phone in their hand or use any part of their body to support their phone. Drivers can only use their phones to make or receive phone calls by using speakerphone, earpiece, wireless headphone, phone is connected to vehicle or an electronic watch. GPS navigation devices are allowed.
- Headsets and earpieces can only be worn for communication purposes and not for listening to music or other entertainment.
- A driver may not send or read any text-based communication unless using voice-based communication that automatically converts message to a written text or is being used for navigation or GPS.
- A driver may not write, send or read any text messages, e-mails, social media or internet data content.
- A driver may not watch a video unless it is for navigation.
- A driver may not record a video (continuously running dash cams are exempt).
- Music streaming apps can be used provided the driver activates and programs them when they are parked. Drivers cannot touch their phones to do anything to their music apps when they are on the road. Music streaming apps that include video also are not allowed since drivers cannot watch videos when on the road. Drivers can listen to and program music streaming apps that are connected to and controlled through their vehicle’s radio.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why is this law needed in Georgia?
Our state has seen significant increases in vehicle traffic crashes, fatalities and bodily injury. The vast majority of these increases have been in rear-end crashes, single-car crashes and crashes by drivers from 15 to 25-years-old. State and local law enforcement have stated that these incidents are a clear indication of driver inattention.
Could I still talk on my phone while driving?
Yes, as long as it is done hands-free. Drivers would be able to use their phone’s speakerphone, Bluetooth technology, an earpiece, a headphone or other device to allow them to communicate on a hands-free basis.
Could I touch my cellphone to dial a number or receive or end a call?
Yes. The law would simply prohibit drivers from holding or supporting the phone.
Would I be required to purchase a hands-free accessory, such as a mount or bracket?
No. The proposed law simply states that a driver cannot hold or support a mobile phone. A phone can be left on a vehicle’s console, a front seat, etc. However, for the safety of all Georgians, state and local law enforcement recommend the purchase and use of a hands-free device if using a mobile phone while driving.
When the Hands-Free law takes effect July 1, the Georgia Department of Public Safety and local law enforcement will have the option to issue warnings for violations as part of the effort to educate and to help motorists adapt to the new law. However, citations can and will be issued starting July 1 for any violation of the Hands-Free Law, including those where the violation involves a traffic crash. There is NO 90-day grace period provision in the Hands-Free Law. Fines will include $50 for first conviction and one point on a license, $100 for second conviction and two points on a license, and third and subsequent convictions will consist of $150 fine and three points on a license.
The Hands-Free Georgia Act is a measure to help protect the citizens of our state. We take the protection of our citizens seriously and this law is a step forward in that direction. 13 out of the 15 other states that have adopted a similar law have seen at least a 16% decrease in traffic related deaths amd ware hopeful that the same, and more, will be said of Georgia.