U Drive. U Text. U Pay.
Have you heard of this campaign? It’s part of the efforts made by the state of Georgia to prevent distractions while driving.
Of the 50 states in this country, 48 have prohibited cell phone use while driving, and Georgia is one of them. A few years ago, Governor Nathan Deal signed the “Hands-Free Georgia Act” (Act 673), which was made into law on May 2nd, 2018, and became enforceable on July 1st, 2018. In just two years, 49,535 citations were issued for breaking this law, and to this day, it is one of Georgia’s leading causes of accidents.
Although we’re not allowed to talk on the phone while driving in Atlanta, much less get distracted by looking at text messages or WhatsApp, sometimes we forget this while driving and when we reach a traffic light or a stop sign, or even with the car in slow motion, we check our phones.
Can you or can you not talk on the phone while driving in Georgia?
According to Georgia Law, you may not hold a cell phone in your hand or any other way while driving. That means you can’t do it either while you’re at a stop sign or when you are at a traffic light. To communicate while driving, you should use a device that allows you to talk or send messages without holding any part of your phone, tablet, or another electronic device. So you can use earphones, a smartwatch, and other accessories that help you communicate. You may only use your cell phone while your car is in motion or public transit in the case of an emergency, such as an accident, medical emergency, reporting criminal activity, and calling the police or an ambulance.
You should know that you can’t have your cell phone in your hands to use apps like Waze, Google Maps, or any other app for directions, as even in these situations, you may receive a fine. In this case, we recommend using an adapter or device that allows you to hold the phone up somewhere else in your car.
You’re also not allowed to make video calls, choose music, watch videos, check social media, or write on the phone.
What is the fine for using your phone while driving in Georgia?
The fines have tiers, so as you repeat the offense, the fine amount rises, accumulating points on your license.
For the first offense, you’d have to pay a $50 fine and receive one point on your license. If you commit the same offense again, the fine would be $100, and you’d get 2 points on your license. Third offenses and any after that result in a $150 fine and 3 points on your license.
In the case of a first offense, you can go to court and prove that you’ve bought a device that will allow you to avoid repeating the incident, and they will remove your offense.
As a reference, we’d like to point out that your license is suspended in Georgia if you accumulate 15 points over a 24-month period. However, there are ways to clean your record and get rid of your points, but you’ll have to take a course and follow a specific process. You can find all the information on the Georgia Department of Driver Services website. Also, remember that your insurance company could significantly increase your car’s policy once you get 2-3 points on your license.
Statistics for distracted driving in the state of Georgia
Unfortunately, accidents due to distracted driving are still happening in Georgia. Many people will be victims of negligent drivers who cause damage and injuries to other drivers that follow the law.
If you suffered a traffic accident in Atlanta as a victim of someone else’s negligence, which caused your injuries, damages, lost wages, or even worse, the loss of a loved one because someone else was driving carelessly, talking on the phone or messaging, most likely you have a case.
Also, remember that accidents involving a truck are also subject to the laws against driving while talking on the phone, sending text or Whatsapp messages, or anything else that implies a distracted conduct. There are even stricter and more specific truck rules that protect you against distracted driving, so make sure you consult with your truck accident attorney in Georgia in order to fight for your rights.
Remember that you’ll have to prove that the driver in the other vehicle was distracted and had his cell phone in their hands. A Georgia attorney specializing in traffic accidents can help you obtain the evidence by accessing security cameras and using legal and technological means to demonstrate that the driver was answering messages, writing, or being distracted in some way. That will be necessary to show their guilt and make them responsible for paying for all injuries caused to you or your family.