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What Georgia’s Hands-Free Law Means

The hands-free law means a driver’s phone can’t be in their hand or touch any part of their body while talking on the phone. Although hands-free technology allows voice-to-text and other convenient commands, drivers aren’t allowed to physically read, send, or write texts or emails while driving.

What Is the Georgia Hands-Free Law?

The Hands-Free Georgia Act imposes multiple standards for motor vehicle drivers, including:

  • Motorists operating a vehicle cannot hold their phone in their hand or allow it to touch any part of their body while they talk on the phone and drive.
  • Drivers can’t send, read, or write emails, text messages, social media content, and other internet data even with hands-free technology while operating their cars.
  • Motorists can listen to streaming music if it does not include on-screen videos on their device while on the road. However, they can’t touch their phone to program or activate a music streaming app while driving. Listening to streaming muscle heard through and controlled by the car’s radio is permitted. Drivers must get off the road before touching their phones to activate or program a music streaming app.
  • Motorists can’t watch videos while on the road. However, GPS and other navigational systems are allowed.
  • Drivers can’t use a phone or electronic device to record videos on the road unless it is a continuously running dash cam.

Why Did Georgia Institute the Hands-Free Law?

According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, there was a significant increase in traffic accidents, injuries, and death in previous years. Most of these statistics involved single-car crashes, rear-end collisions, and accidents involving drivers between 15 and 25.

State and local law enforcement cited distracted driving as a contributing factor to those accidents. After 15 states passed hands-free driving laws, there was a 16 percent decrease in traffic-related fatalities within the first two years. The number of fatalities continued to drop in subsequent years. That data prompted the passing of the hands-free law in 2018.

What Are the Penalties for Violating the Hands-Free Law?

Violating the hands-free law in Georgia can lead to a $50 fine and one point on the offender’s driver’s license. A second conviction can result in two points on the driver’s license and a $100 fine. A $150 fine and three points on the license can occur after a third or subsequent conviction.

The fines after a second or third conviction only apply if violating the hands-free law occurs within 24 months of the first conviction.

Are There Exceptions to the Hands-Free Law?

The hands-free law does not apply when:

  • A driver reports a traffic accident, medical emergency, hazardous road condition, fire, or criminal act.
  • A contractor or employee of a utility services provider responds to a utility emergency while acting within the scope of their employment.
  • A firefighter, ambulance driver, law enforcement officer, emergency medical services personnel, or other first responder performs their official duties.
  • A driver is in a lawfully parked motor vehicle – not at a stop sign or red light.

Another exception involves reading, writing, or sending text-based communication. The statute doesn’t apply if:

  • The electronic device automatically converts voice-based communication to written form as a text message.
  • The driver is using the device for GPS purposes.

Does the Law Apply the Same to Truckers and School Bus Drivers?

The statute includes specific provisions for school bus drivers and truck drivers. The hands-free statute prohibits school bus drivers from using a cell phone or two-way radio while unloading and loading passengers or while the bus is moving.

However, a school bus driver can use a cell phone like a two-way radio to facilitate live communication between public safety or school officials and the driver.

A driver operating a commercial motor vehicle on any state highway cannot:

  • Reach for a device in a way that they cannot stay properly restrained by their seat belt or in a seated driving position
  • Use more than one button on a device to end or start voice communication

What If I Am Injured by a Distracted Driver?

If you get hurt in an accident caused by a distracted driver, promptly pursuing a case against them is crucial. The process starts on day one. You should go to the hospital immediately to treat your injury.

Follow the emergency room doctor’s instructions if they recommend ongoing treatment or follow-up care. Although you may believe the insurance company wants to help, their primary goal is to avoid paying the claim. If the insurance adjuster notices that you delayed initial treatment or didn’t follow the treatment plan, they might deny the claim or offer a lowball settlement.

You might know the other driver’s distractions contributed to the collision. Their behavior might have been obvious. However, building a case against them and proving what happened is more complicated than you realize.

You should hire an experienced personal injury lawyer to assist you. They can investigate to establish liability and obtain evidence proving another driver is at fault for the crash.

Contact a Georgia Car Accident Lawyer

Without an experienced and resourceful attorney, proving someone else is guilty of distracted driving and should be liable for your injury is challenging. You should contact Kevin A. Adamson, P.C. so we can start working on your case as soon as possible. We have a long track record of success fighting big insurance companies and negligent individuals responsible for harming others. We are ready to fight for you too.

If you sustained injuries in a car accident due to someone else’s distracted driving, call or contact us online for a free consultation.