Georgia Distracted Driving Law



GEORGIA DISTRACTED DRIVING LAW

(O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241)

I. Overview:

A. Summary: This law will require drivers to use hands-free technology when using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving through the imposition of fines.

B. Effective Date: Law will take effect July 1, 2018.

C. Stand Alone Device: Device other than wireless telecommunication device which stores audio or video data files to be retrieved on demand by user.

D. Wireless Telecommunication Device: Cellular telephone, portable telephone, a text message device, a personal digital assistant, a standalone computer, a global positioning system receiver, or substantially similar portable wireless device that is used to initiate or receive communication , information, or data.

1. Wireless Telecommunication Device Does Not Include: a radio, citizens band (CB) radio, citizen band hybrid radio, commercial 2 way radio communication device or functional equivalent, subscription based emergency communication device, prescribed medical device, amateur or ham radio, in vehicle security, navigation, or remote diagnostic system.

II. PROHIBITED Activities:

A. Touching Approved Device: Touching Holding or supporting, with any party of the body, a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic (i.e. iPod).

B. Text Based Communication: Writing, sending or reading any text-based communication, including a text message, instant message, e-mail or internet data while holding your device.

C. Watching: Watching a video or movie other than watching data related to the navigation of your vehicle (i.e. your mapping app or GPS screen).

D. Recording: Recording a video.

1. Other than a device produced solely for the purpose of continuously recording or broadcasting video from inside or outside the vehicle

III. ALLOWED ACTIVITIES:

A. Hands Free Device: Speaking or texting while using hands-free technology.

B. GPS: Using a GPS system or mapping app.

1. Must be a hands free device.

2. Cannot hold or support with any part of your body.

C. Smart Watch: Wearing and using a smart watch.

D. Ear Piece: Using an earpiece to talk on the phone.

E. Other Devices: Using radios, CB radios, CB radio hybrids, commercial two-way radios, subscription-based emergency communication devices, prescribed medical devices, amateur/ham radios and “in-vehicle security, navigation or remote diagnostics” systems.

F. Streaming: Internet based or subscription radio apps on a wireless device or stand alone device.

1. However, you cannot touch or hold the device.

2. This does not apply to an actual radio or satellite radio device designed specifically for that purpose.

IV. Commercial Vehicle:

A. Prohibited Vehicles: When operating a commercial vehicle, a driver can NOT:

1. Use more than a single button on a wireless communication device to begin or end a voice call.

2. Reach for a wireless communication device or standalone device if:

i. The Driver is no longer seated in the proper driving position.

ii. The Driver is no longer properly restrained by the seatbelt.

IV. Exemptions:

A. Parked: You may also use your hands if you are lawfully parked.

1. Lawfully meaning off or beside the road in an area open to parking.

2. NOT AT A STOPLIGHT.

B. Activities: There are circumstances where you can handle an electronic device while driving. These will include:

1. reporting:

i. a traffic accident

ii. medical emergency

iii. fire

iv. a crime

v. delinquent act

vi. a hazardous road condition.

C. Individuals: Certain Individuals will be exempt from this new law

1. Only while performing their official duties:

2. Including:

i. Police

ii. Firefighters

iii. Emergency Medical Personnel

iv. Ambulance Drivers

v. First Responders

vi. Utility Employees or Contractors responding to a utility emergency.

V. FINES:

A. Separate Fines: Each violation of this law shall be a separate offense

1. Using a non-handsfree telecommunication device & stand alone device at the same time would constitute 2 separate offenses (phone & ipod)

B. Fines: Upon a conviction of this law a driver shall be subject to a fine, as follows:

1. First Offense within 24 months: $50.00

2. Second Offense within 24 months $100.00

3. Third (or more) Offense within 24 Months $150.00

4. 24 months shall be measured from date of conviction or plea to date of conviction or plea.

5. For the purpose of calculating the fine a plea of NOLO shall be counted as a guilty plea or conviction.

6. No additional fees or taxes shall be added to these amounts.

C. Points:

1st offenses in 24 months: 1 points

2nd offense in 24 months: 2 points

3rd offense in 24 months: 3 points

D. Purchase of Handsfree Device as Defense: On the 1st offense if a driver produces in court a device (or proof of purchase of device) that would allow the driver to comply with this law in the future, the driver shall be found NOT GUILTY.

1. A Driver may only use this defense ONCE.

Prepared by:

Joshua Thermon Teague

Teague Law

The JOSH TEAGUE firm, llc

PO BOX 296

East Ellijay, Georgia 30539

706-276-3636

josh@jttlaw.com