Jones & Swanson

New Hands-Free Technology Law Effective in July

Governor Nathan Deal recently signed House Bill 673, requiring Georgia drivers to use hands-free technology while using electronic devices when operating a vehicle. The bill will go into effect July 1, 2018 and is under the Hands Free Georgia Act. The new law is commonly being referred to as the “Anti-Texting Law”

In Georgia, it is already illegal to text while behind the wheel – but drivers are still allowed to hold their phones. This makes it difficult for law enforcement officers to determine whether drivers are calling or sending a text. The new Hands-Free Georgia Act will no longer allow drivers to have a phone in hand or supported by their body, or in any way that may be distracting.

Not only will it be illegal to use a phone while in motion, but it will also be illegal to use a phone while at a red light or at stop sign. Drivers will be allowed to dial phone numbers and use GPS navigation, but only if the phone is in a holder, console or on the seat – not on the person. As long as you are behind the wheel, you must use hands-free technology to use a phone until legally parked. The law prohibits any text-based communication, including sending or reading emails, as well as watching or filming videos. Hands-free technology is now required to use a mobile device in a Georgia vehicle.

Certain services (fireman, police officers, and emergency medical personnel) will be able to use radios for emergency-based communication services.

Distracted driving has historically been a major problem on Georgia roadways and has caused many accidents, including fatalities. In 2017, over 1,500 people died on Georgia roadways. Smart phones and electronic devices was a major factor in many of those crashes. Not only does distracted driving reflect calls and texts, but also photos, videos, music and social media activity. Jones & Swanson urges drivers to be mindful of the new law to help keep the roadways safe for all.

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