Governor Nathan Deal has signed a bill that requires Georgians to put down their cell phones, starting on July 1, 2018. Holding or supporting a cell phone with your body will now be against the law and punishable by fines. Drivers will be allowed to use ear pieces, or headphones, to talk on the phone while driving, but the key is having both hands free to focus on driving. Navigation and GPS is allowed while vehicles are lawfully parked, but drivers can not hold or support the screen while driving. Drivers also cannot write, send, or read text-based communication, but they can use voice-based communication that automatically converts to written message. Watching or recording video is also prohibited by this law. First time offenders may face a fine of $50.00, with a point added to their license.
Commercial drivers are prohibited from using more than a single button on their phone to call or hang up, or reach for a phone if it requires them to no longer be seated.
The new hands-free law does allow for calls that report accidents, medical emergencies, or other safety hazards. And as long as the vehicle is lawfully parked, drivers can use their phones. That means texting or dialing a number at a red light or stop sign is prohibited, as the vehicle must be parked and off the roadway if a driver is using their cell phone. The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety in Georgia stated that 3,450 people died due to distracted driving in 2016. Please make sure to follow this new law, and drive safely!