Using Your Phone and Driving in Georgia

couple in car

How often do you see other drivers around you talking on their cell phones?

How about drivers with their eyes on the phone screens instead of on the roadway?

Cell phone and similar devices are a major part of our lives now and they certainly have made their way into our vehicles. Distracted driving is dangerous driving. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, distracted driving claimed 3,166 lives in 2017.

Georgia already had a law on the books form 2010 that banned texting and driving. However, technology has changed since then and people can do much more on their phones. It is no surprise that Georgia lawmakers cracked down on how phones could be used inside vehicles last year.

The Law in Georgia

  • Drivers cannot have a phone in their hand or touching any part of their body while talking on their phones.
  • Drivers cannot read or send text messages, emails, social media, or any other content from their devices. This includes even if they are using hands-free technology.
  • Drivers cannot watch videos while operating a vehicle.
  • Drivers Drivers cannot use their devices to record video while operating a vehicle.
  • Drivers CAN listen to streaming music that does not include videos on the screens of their devices but cannot touch their phones while driving to activate or change the song.

It is illegal for a person to hold their phone while driving in Georgia. According to the hands-free law that went into effect in 2018:

Georgia’s hands-free law is restrictive. The Atlanta Journal Constitution says that the law passed last year was “the most significant change to Georgia traffic laws in a generation.” Law enforcement officers say that people seem to be taking the new law seriously.

Are there Exceptions?

The law carves out some exceptions. These include:

  • Being able to control the music apps on the device if it is controlled through the vehicle’s radio system.
  • Being able to use navigational services like Google Maps.
  • Reporting emergencies, crimes, or traffic accidents are also acceptable under the law.

What are the Penalties for Breaking the Law?

Penalties for violating the hands-free law include:

  • A $50 fine and one point assessed against a violator’s driver’s license for a first offense.
  • A $100 fine and two points assessed against a violator’s driver’s license for a second offense.
  • A $150 fine and three points assessed against a violator’s driver’s license for a third or subsequent offense.

*Penalties for a second or third offense only apply if the offense takes place within 24 months of the date of the first conviction.

** First-time offenders can have their charges dropped by showing the court that they have obtained a device that allows them to talk on the phone with hands-free technology.

The Consequences are Real

The consequences of using a phone or other device extend beyond monetary and license penalties. Car crashes involving distracted drivers often result in serious injuries. It is not uncommon to see the following injuries as a result of distracted driving incidents:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Whiplash injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Concussions/head injuries
  • Internal organ damage/internal bleeding
  • Broken or dislocated bones
  • Severe lacerations or amputations

According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, 70% of all fatal vehicle crashes are the result of unsafe driving behaviors. This includes driving while distracted by a phone.

If you are injured or sustain property damage in a vehicle crash involving a distracted driver, you should seek legal assistance from a qualified and experienced Georgia car accident attorney. These cases can become complex and you want to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.