Distracted Driving/Texting While Driving in Georgia
Distracted driving is most commonly associated with texting while driving but it can actually include much more. Georgia has had a distracted driving law for many years but recently, legislators enacted the Georgia Hands Free Law that has some major changes. If you or a loved one has been charged with distracted driving with or without a DUI charge, contact our Georgia Distracted Driving Attorneys today.
Georgia Distracted Driving and Hands Free Law
Georgia's distracted driving law can be found in O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241. It has been updated to include the changes from the newly passed Hands Free Law. It states:
All drivers operating a motor vehicle on any highway of this state are prohibited from:
- Holding or supporting, with any part of the body, a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device.
- Writing, sending or reading any text-based communication, including a text message, instant message, e-mail or internet data.
- Watching, recording, or broadcasting a video or movie.
Since the statute can be widely interpreted, we have included some guidelines based on the statute.
- Drivers cannot have a phone in their hand or touching any part of their body while driving. This means that even if you are using your shoulder to talk on your phone, you could still receive a ticket.
- Even with hands-free technology, drivers cannot write, read or send text messages, e-mails, social media content and other internet data while on the road.
- Voice to text is allowed but you cannot be holding your phone.
- Drivers cannot watch videos when they are on the road.
- You are allowed to have GPS going but you cannot start the GPS while driving.
- Drivers cannot use their phones or electronic devices to record video when they are on the road.
- Drivers may listen to streaming music that does not include videos on the screen of their phone or device while driving but cannot touch their phones while on the road to activate or program any music streaming app. Streaming music that is controlled by and listened through the vehicle's radio is allowed. Drivers who need to touch their phones to activate/program their music streaming apps must do so before getting on the road.
- These laws also apply to iPads, computers, or other devices.
Can I Text, Surf the Web, or Use My Phone While at a Stop?
The answer is no. Even if you are stopped at a stop sign, red light, or stuck in traffic and you are using your phone, you could receive a ticket for distracted driving.
Penalties for Distracted Driving or Texting While Driving in Georgia
The penalties if a driver is convicted of distracted driving include the following punishments. For a first time conviction, the penalty is 1 point added to your driver's license and a $50.00 fine. For a second time conviction, the penalty is 2 points added to your driver's license and a $100.00 fine. For a third or another subsequent convictions, the penalty is 3 points added to your driver's license and a $150.00 fine.
However, first time offenders can have the charge dropped by showing the court they have obtained a device that allows them to talk on a phone with hands-free technology or devices.
Exceptions to the Distracted Driving Laws in Georgia
There are exceptions to the law which allow a driver to handle his or her phone. First, a driver can use his or her phone for reporting a traffic crash, medical emergency, fire, criminal activity or hazardous road conditions. Next, a driver can use his or her phone if he or she is an employee or contractor of a utility service provider acting within the scope of their employment while responding to a utility emergency. Third, a driver can use his or her phone if he or she is a first responder (law enforcement, fire, EMS) during the performance of their official duties. And finally, a driver can use his or her phone if he or she is in a lawfully parked vehicle—this does not include vehicles stopped for traffic signals and stop signs on the public roadway.
Contact Our Georgia Distracted Driving Lawyers Today
We frequently see clients charged with DUI or possession of marijuana that were stopped for being on their phone. Once an officer lawfully pulls someone over, they are able to conduct an investigation. If you or a loved one has been charged with distracted driving by itself or with other charges, contact our office today. Our team of Georgia Distracted Driving Attorneys are here to help.