Do you talk on your cellphone while driving? Starting on July 1, a new law in Georgia is going to create some big changes, so it’s important that you’re prepared for them.
Here are a few things you should know about The Hands-Free Georgia Act, also known as the Hands Free Law.
Don’t hold your cellphone while driving in Georgia
After July 1, it will be against the law to have a cellphone in your hand or resting on any other part of your body, like on your lap or your shoulder, while driving. To make a call, you must be using one of the following:
- A speakerphone
- Bluetooth technology
- A wireless earpiece
- A headset
- An electronic watch (or similar device)
You won’t be allowed to use your electronic device for texting, the internet, email, social media and watching or recording videos. However, you can use voice texting technology so long as you don’t touch your phone. As tempting as it might be to read that text or take a peek at your feed during a boring commute or at a stop sign, it pays to just wait until you arrive at your destination.
Exceptions to the Hands Free Law
As with any law, there are exceptions. You may use your cellphone while in the driver’s seat if:
- It’s being used for mapping purposes
- It’s being used for GPS navigation
- You are parked – but it doesn’t count if you are stopped at a red light or a stop sign
- You are reporting an emergency
First responders (police, firefighters and medical services) can use their cellphones as part of their official duties.
Penalties for hands free violations
The new law provides some hefty fines for violations. While a first conviction is only $50 and adds only one point on your license, subsequent violations double, then triple the penalties.
- First conviction: $50 fine, one point on your license
- Second conviction: $100 fine, two points
- Three or more convictions: $150, three points per conviction
There is no warning or grace period
Law enforcement officers are allowed to give you a warning (if they choose to), but citations will start when the Hands Free Law goes into effect on July 1, 2018.
You can still listen to music through your phone
If you activate your music library or streaming app while you’re parked, you can play music from your mobile device. But remember: you can’t touch your phone once you start driving.
The best way to prevent injuries to yourself and others is to focus on the road – not your cellphone – while you are behind the wheel. Stay safe out there.