If a police officer notices a driver violating the law, they can pull them over and issue a fine of $50 for a first offense.
The state of Georgia takes distracted driving very seriously. One of the most widespread ways people become distracted behind the wheel is through cell phone use. If you are caught using your phone while driving, you can face certain consequences.
Georgia Passed a Hands-Free Law in 2018
In July 2018, Georgia passed a law called the “Hands-Free Georgia Act” concerning cell phone use while driving. The law makes it illegal to drive while using a handheld phone. Before this law passed, the state only prohibited drivers from texting while operating their vehicles.
Drivers are not allowed to use a cell phone in hand for any reason. This includes texting, reading a message, browsing social media websites, recording, making a call, etc. It’s even against the law to place a cell phone on your lap to make a call while using the speaker feature.
Even if you are waiting at a red light, you can’t use your phone in your hand for any purpose. The only time you can have a phone in hand is if you’re parked in a legal parking space.
Distracted Driving is Serious
The reason for the hands-free law passing was because of how big a problem handheld cell phone usage is while driving. Distracted driving of any kind is illegal in Georgia. However, the dominant form of distracted driving is handheld cell phone use.
When a person drives while using a cell phone, it causes their attention to be diverted from the most important task at hand: their driving. Different types of distractions also occur while using a phone in hand. That is because it requires a person’s hands to move from the steering wheel, their eyes to shift from the road, and their concentration to move to their phone. These distractions are manual, visual, and cognitive and can have devastating consequences if an accident occurs within seconds. In fact, some of the deadliest car crashes occur due to distracted driving from cell phone use.
If you were injured by a driver using a handheld phone, hire a professional Carrollton GA car accident attorney to prepare your injury claim. Your lawyer will tell you everything you need to know about establishing liability and proving negligence, seeking compensation, and settling with the at-fault party via an insurance claim or lawsuit.
What Are the Consequences of Handheld Cell Phone Use While Driving?
Serious car accidents can occur when drivers use cell phones held in their hands. If you are involved in a crash with someone who was using a handheld cell phone behind the wheel, you could be left with severe, catastrophic injuries that might leave you permanently disabled. The following injuries commonly occur in accidents involving drivers distracted by their phones:
• Broken bones or fractures
• Loss of limbs or amputations
• Spinal cord injuries
• Traumatic brain injuries
• Scarring or disfigurement
• Burn injuries
• Soft tissue injuries
• Internal bleeding or organ damage
Sadly, victims who suffer injuries in a car accident with a driver distracted through handheld cell phone use can be left with permanent disabilities. Unfortunately, many also die due to their injuries sustained in such a crash.
What Are the Penalties for Using a Handheld Phone While Driving?
Drivers who are found to violate the Hands-Free Georgia Act due to using a handheld cell phone while behind the wheel can face certain penalties. If a police officer notices a driver violating the law, they can pull them over and issue a fine of $50 for a first offense. In addition, with that first offense, the individual will get 1 point against their driver’s license.
If a driver has a prior offense of using a handheld cell phone while driving, they will be responsible for paying a $100 fine and receive 2 points against their license. Three or more prior offenses result in a $150 fine and 3 points taken against their driver’s license.
It’s possible for a person to have their first distracted driving offense dropped by proving that they have a phone or technology within their vehicle that allows them to talk or do other activities in a hands-free manner. For example, in addition to having a phone call through the car’s hands-free system, it might also be possible for their text messages to be read to them without the driver putting their hands on the phone or even the car’s controls.
Drivers who amass 15 points over two years in violation of the Hands-Free Georgia Act can expect to have their license suspended.
As you can see, it is better to follow the law than experience its consequences.