On Sunday, July 1st (this Sunday), motorists on Georgia’s roads will be subject to a new law governing hands-free driving. Known as the “Hands-Free Act”, the Georgia legislature and Governor Nathan Deal enacted legislation designed to improve the safety of Georgia’s roads through the elimination of electronic usage while driving. Although the common idea is that the law is designed to outlaw texting and driving, the “Hands-free Georgia Act” actually applies to any use of an electronic device while driving, stating:
“(c) While operating a motor vehicle on any highway of this state, no individual shall:
(1) Physically hold or support, with any part of his or her body a:
(A) Wireless telecommunications device, provided that such exclusion shall not prohibit the use of an earpierce, headphone device, or device worn on a wrist to conduct a voice- based communication (Smartphone watch); or
(B) Stand-alone electronic device;”
“We want to bring awareness to the Handsfree Law that goes into effect July 1st. Texting and driving is dangerous and we ask that the public please obey the law.” said Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin, “Hands free means you can’t support the phone with your body at all”.
Bainbridge Public Safety Director Jerry Carter echoed the sentiment. “This is a great new law and it will be strictly enforced by Bainbridge Public Safety”.
Beginning July 1, law enforcement around the state of Georgia will begin issuing citations for violation of the new law with no required grace period. And even though the law is known as the “Hands Free Act”, it actually applies to any support of the phone or electronic device with any part of the driver’s body. That means you can’t use the phone while it’s in your shirt pocket, laying on your leg, or even strapped to the side of your head. The only legal use of an electronic device by a driver will be if it is supported by something other than your person (think: console, dash mount, etc). The only legal contact with between the device and driver will be a single touch to either connect or disconnect a call.
In an effort to help the people of southwest Georgia adjust, Action GM is offering another incentive to go hands-free. Until July 10, stop by Action GM and show the staff that your bluetooth device is connected and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win $1000 cash. Action GM General Manager Randy Downing stated, “It doesn’t matter what kind of vehicle you’re driving. If you will stop by and show us that you’re using the hands-free device in your vehicle, we will give you a chance to win $1000 cash. This is our way of raising awareness for the new law and giving people another reason to go hands free.” If you are having trouble setting up the bluetooth connectivity in your vehicle, Action GM has trained technicians ready to help as well.
Violations of the Hands Free Law will mean fines and points on your license:
(xv) First violation of Code Section 40-6-241 (Hands-Free Georgia Act) 1 point
(xvi) Second violation of Code Section 40-6-241 (Hands-Free Georgia Act) 2 points
(xvii) Third violation of Code Section 40-6-241 (Hands-Free Georgia Act) 3 points
For more information on Georgia’s new Hands Free Act, you can visit the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety’s website.
*Vehicle pictured is for illustration purposes only. It is not known if the accident was caused by distracted driving.