Prior to July 1, 2018, just about anyone could hold and talk on a phone while driving in Georgia. The only exceptions applied to those under the age of 18 and commercial drivers. Although texting while driving has been illegal for some time within the state, the old rules of holding a phone while driving have changed.
The new law, which went into effect as of July 1, prohibits touching, texting, and holding a phone while driving throughout Georgia. Those who violate the law can be pulled over and face steep fines. A first offense carries a fine of $50 and one point off a person’s license. The penalties increase for those with prior violations of the new law with those found holding their phone for a third time while driving facing penalties of a fine of $150 and three points off their license.
The new law does not state that the vehicle must be moving in order for someone to be breaking the law. That means that even those stopped in traffic or sitting at a red light can still face the same penalties for even touching their phone.
Law enforcement officials are doing everything they can to make people aware of the new law, including the police department in Marietta. There they are doing everything from posting signs around the city to posting pictures of accidents on their social media pages as a lesson in why the law is needed. They have also asked local churches to pass the information on to parishioners and are urging businesses to talk to their employees about the new law.
People need to know about the new law, particularly if more police departments decide to follow the example of the Marietta Police Department.
Individuals will still be able to talk on the phone, but they must do so in a hands-free manner. The only time a person will be allowed to touch their phone is if they are answering a call or ending a phone call by hanging up. GPS apps can still be used, but addresses must be entered before a person starts driving.
Unlike other areas that have enacted similar laws, there will be no grace period for those in Georgia. Those who are caught with a phone in their hand while driving after July 1, 2018 will face the consequences for doing so.
Personal injury attorney Alan Hamilton of Shiver Hamilton has focused his legal career in personal injury lawsuits, business torts and wrongful death. Attorney Hamilton is the Education Chair of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association and a GTLA Executive Committee member. He can be found on Google+ and LinkedIn.