By Sheriff Eric J. Levett
The Hands-Free Georgia Act takes effect July 1. The law will require drivers to use hands-free technology when using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. If you’re driving through Georgia get used to putting the phone down. Those cited will face a $150 fine, with fines as high as $900 for repeat offenders. First time offenders can receive 1 point against their driver’s licenses, with up to 4 points for repeat offenders.
The law states that phone conversations and other forms of electronic communications can only be conducted with hands-free technology such as in-vehicle Bluetooth or some other wireless medium. The law applies also to anyone trying to wedge a phone between an ear and shoulder, or trying to text or dial from a phone resting in a lap.
“Vehicles are sitting at red lights and they’re paying attention to everything in their car especially their phones”. “They think the vehicle in front of them are going and they’re colliding with the vehicle.” Recent reports show drivers are rear ended in 48% of wrecks in the Rockdale County and distracted driving is usually to blame.
But “hands free” isn’t as clear-cut as it sounds. Here’s a look at what would and would not be allowed. “It will simplify for law enforcement what they can and can’t do,” The bill specifically lays out what drivers in Georgia cannot do while behind the wheel.
• 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.
• 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
If you are caught holding your phone and driving you could get a ticket and points on your license. Drivers can still use their phone as a GPS, but you cannot hold it. Officers recommend using Bluetooth. Hopefully, this will stem the tide of accidents, injuries and fatalities.
Throughout each month, the clerk of courts, tax commissioner, sheriff and probate judge—Rockdale’s elected constitutional officers—discuss topics relevant to their respective roles