The laws related to how you can use your phone while driving vary from one state to another. In some situations, it may seem like a “gray area” regarding if texting or calling while driving is really illegal or just something you should try to avoid.
In Georgia, though, the texting laws related to using a cell phone while driving are extremely specific and outline what you can and cannot do with your phone while you are behind the wheel.
If you are involved in an accident with someone who is using their phone or is otherwise distracted while driving, contact Hines Law. Our car accident attorneys will help you prove your case and get the compensation you deserve.
Georgia’s Hands-Free Law and What It Means for Drivers
On July 1, 2018, the state of Georgia passed a law related to cell phone use. This hands-free law restricts the use of phones while behind the wheel. Before the law was passed, it was only illegal to text and drive.
Unlike many other states, (including Georgia before July 2018) where texting and driving laws are only applicable to some drivers, like teens, Georgia’s law applies to all drivers in the state. There are some stipulations to know:
- Drivers aren’t allowed to hold their phone or have the device touching any part of their body. This means they can’t let it sit on their lap and have speaker phone on or hold it between their shoulder and ear to make calls while behind the wheel. If any calls are made, a hands-free device must be used.
- Drivers are prohibited from reading or posting to social media while they are on the road.
- Drivers are not allowed to read, send, or write an email or text message while they are driving.
- Drivers are not allowed to touch or hold their phone to adjust the volume, change a playlist, open a streaming service, or anything else.
- Drivers are not allowed to record or watch videos with their phones while they are on the road.
- Drivers are not allowed to conduct a web search while they are on the road.
An important note to these laws is that they apply even when the vehicle is fully stopped at a red light or stop sign and not moving. However, it is permitted for drivers to hold or use their phones if they are in a vehicle that is parked.
Are There Any Exceptions to the Laws Pertaining to Phone Use While Driving in Georgia?
There are several exceptions that allow you to use your phone in specific and limited ways while you are driving.
To begin with, you shouldn’t worry too much – you are allowed to stream your music if you can control it through the stereo in the car and don’t have to touch your phone while you are driving. Also, the “no video” part of the law doesn’t apply if you are using your phone for GPS directions.
It’s also possible to send text messages legally if you use a voice-to-text app and if you never touch your phone while you compose or send the message.
Along with these exceptions, there are also some situations where you can touch your phone, even if you are driving and don’t have a hands-free device. For example, utility company employees, first responders, and contractors responding to an emergency situation can use their phones. An ordinary driver is allowed to use their phone if they are doing so to report a traffic accident, crime, or another type of emergency.
What Is the Penalty for Texting and Driving in the State of Georgia?
If someone is caught using their phone while driving, no matter if it is to text, make a call, or open an app, they will face a $50 fine and a point applied to their driver’s license.
When the individual is caught a second time within two years of the first incident, the fine increases to $100, and two points are applied to their license. Each offense after the second comes with a $150 fine and three or more points applied to the driver’s record. If a driver receives 15 points in two years, their license will be suspended.
Even though those are the penalties that you face for using your phone while driving in Georgia, there are other possible consequences. It’s estimated that cases of distracted driving cause eight deaths in the U.S. every single day, and hundreds of injuries. If a driver injures you because they were distracted and negligent while behind the wheel, they may be held liable for the damages and injuries they cause.