2018-06-13 / Front Page

‘Hands Free’ law - July 1!

Georgia House Bill 673, requiring drivers to use hands-free technology when using cell phones and other electronic devices goes into effect on July 1.

“This law will place people’s hands back on the steering wheel. It will take their eyes and put it them back on the roadway,” Col. Mark McDonough, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety stated when the law was passed.

Noting the state’s existing ban on texting while driving is unenforceable, McDonough stated, “If that change in behavior can occur, we can have a substantial reduction in fatalities and accidents on our roadways.”

What’s Prohibited

Holding or supporting, with any part of the body, a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device (for example, an iPod); Writing, sending or reading any text-based communication, including a text message, instant message, e-mail or internet data while holding your device; Watching a video or movie other than watching data related to the navigation of your vehicle (i.e., your mapping app or GPS screen); Recording a video.

What’s Allowed

Speaking or texting while using hands-free technology; Using a GPS system or mapping app; Wearing and using a smart watch; Using an earpiece to talk on the phone; Using radios, CB radios, CB radio hybrids, commercial two-way radios, subscription based emergency communication devices, prescribed medical devices, amateur or ham radios and “in-vehicle security, navigation or remote diagnostics” systems. There are circumstances where you can handle an electronic device while driving: reporting a traffic accident, medical emergency, fire, a crime or delinquent act or a hazardous road condition. You can also use your hands if you’re lawfully parked (not at a stoplight – “lawfully” means off or beside the road in an area open to parking). Some people are exempt from the hands-free requirement if they’re performing official duties: police, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, ambulance drivers, other first responders and utility employees or contractors responding to a utility emergency.

While warnings for violations may be issued in the first months of enforcement as part of the educational effort, citations can be issued starting July 1, where law enforcement officers believe they are warranted, especially those violations that involve traffic crashes.”

What are the penalties?

First conviction: $50, one point on license; Second conviction: $100, two points on license; Third and subsequent convictions: $150, three points on license.

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