The Hands Free Georgia Law (House Bill 673) is an important and relatively new law that went into effect on July 1, 2018. The Georgia Hands Free Law is intended to prevent distracted driving caused by mobile devices.
The law states that it is illegal to drive while using any part of the body to support or hold a standalone or wireless electronic or telecommunications device. That means a driver cannot have a phone or tablet in their hand when they are behind the wheel.
It also means they cannot have their phone in the crook of their neck. Mobile devices really must not just be free of your hands but of the entire body.
The rule also states that a person cannot read, write, or send anything online while they drive – whether that be Internet communications (including email) or messages (including SMS text messages). It is also unlawful to make (whether recording or live-casting) or watch a video.
If you are the victim of an accident that involves someone not following this law, it gives you substantial grounds for a lawsuit.
What is and isn’t allowed under the Georgia Hands Free Law
The Georgia Hands Free Law does NOT completely prohibit the use of mobile devices by the driver.
Drivers can use GPS systems to follow mapping directions. They can also use a phone if it is either connected to their car or is through a digital watch – provided they are either using a/n wireless headset or earpiece, or that they have turned on their speakerphone.
While a driver is able to use an earpiece or headphones to interact on a phone call, they cannot be used for any other purposes, such as for music. The person cannot listen to music via headphones and cannot interact at all with a music streaming app when they are driving.
However, they can listen to music through an app if they set it up to play when they are parked. The only way a person can interact with a music streaming app while driving is if they are using the car’s radio to control it.
Although drivers are not allowed to text-message via typing, they can do so via voice activation.
A person cannot typically record video while driving, but they are able to use dashcams that are on throughout the drive.
Georgia distracted driving law penalties
Those convicted of breaking the rules of the Georgia Hands Free Law are subject to rather minor penalties:
- First conviction: $50 fine and 1 point on their driver’s license;
- Second conviction (within 24 months of first conviction): $100 and 2 points on their driver’s license; and
- Third conviction (within 24 months of first conviction): $150 and 3 points on their license.
In fact, first-time offenders have the option to buy a device that allows them to use hands-free technology for phone calls. When they present documentation to the court showing they have taken this safety measure, the state will drop the charges.
Regardless how “soft” these penalties are, the driver can be held liable for damages if they get in a car crash with you.
Representation for Georgia distracted driving law charges
Have you been in a car accident that involved a distracted driver? At Georgia Auto Law, we understand how challenging it can be to recover from a car accident, offering caring and supportive assistance during this difficult time. If you have questions regarding a distracted driving collision, please contact us today with the form below.