What is the Hands-Free Georgia Act - House Bill 673?
Over the years Georgia saw an increase in rear-end collisions on the road with many of these accidents involving drivers on a handheld device. On July 1, 2018 Georgia passed the Hands-Free Georgia Act which limits how drivers can use cell phones and technology. Under this law drivers can’t have a cell phone or similar technology in their hands or touching any part of their body while they drive.
This law also prohibits drivers from doing the following while driving:
Writing or sending texts
Using the internet
Posting on social media
There are however, a few exceptions to this law.
1. If you witness a crash or a crime while driving, you can use your phone to report it. That applies to any other emergency, too, including urgent medical cases.
2. You can use your phone in a lawfully parked vehicle. The statement parked vehicle does not include stopping at a light or stop sign.
3. Voice to text does not violate the law. For example you can use and program your GPS as long as it doesn't require your hands to do so.
4. Drivers can listen to music, but only if the device allows for hands-free listening and programming on the road.
What Does the Hands-Free Law Mean for Drivers?
At the time Georgia passed its law, 15 other states had already passed similar legislation. These states saw a dramatic decrease in accidents and fatalities within the first two years after the law took effect. As of June 28, 2020 Georgia State Patrol troopers have issued 49,535 citations since the law became effective July 1, 2018. Most of those citations, 40,788, were issued for holding an electronic device while driving, according to department data.
What Are the Penalties for Violating Hands-Free Georgia Act?
Initially the penalties may appear minor. However, they get steeper for repeat offenders. Note that you will only receive second or subsequent convictions if these offenses occur within two years of the first.
1st Offense: Your first conviction will result in one point on your license and a $50 fine.
2nd Offense: A second conviction doubles the fine and point-penalty.
3rd Offense: With a third conviction, you must pay a $150 fine, and the state will add three points to your record.
Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author. It is recommended that you seek the counsel of an auto accident lawyer should you want to look at options such as getting charges dropped as a first time offender.