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A Criminal Defense Law Firm

Hands Free Law

Since 2011, Georgia has seen the highest increase in auto insurance rates in the nation. Along with an increasing population in Metro Atlanta, traffic accidents and fatalities have drastically increased over the last few years. According to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, Cobb County alone saw an increase of over 10,000 traffic accidents from 2014 to 2016. In an effort to make our roads safer, the Georgia Hands-Free Law was put into effect on July 1st of this year.

Georgia’s Hands-Free Law follows in the footsteps of similar laws that are currently in effect in 16 other states, as well as Washington, D.C. According to the US Department of Transportation, states with similar laws have shown an average of a 16% reduction in motor vehicle accidents within the first two years, followed by an even greater reduction the following years.

While it is too soon to tell what the net effect of the Hands-Free Law will be, a recent study by AAA shows that 98% of Georgia drivers surveyed knew about the new law, but 75% had seen another driver holding their phone while driving since the law went into effect.

Under the new Hands-Free Law, drivers cannot hold their phones or have it supported by any part of the body while driving. Drivers may use Bluetooth or speakerphone to talk on the phone while driving, and are also able to use their phone’s voice-to-text function to send messages while driving, as long as they are not touching their phones. Streaming music is allowed, as long as it is set up before driving. Watching or recording videos is not allowed, with the exception of using GPS navigation. Touching your phone to do anything other than accept a call is not permitted, even if stopped at a red light.
Violations of the Hands-Free Law carry the following penalties:
• 1st offense–$50 fine and 1 point on license
• 2nd offense–$100 fine and 2 points on license
• 3rd and subsequent offenses–$150 fine and 3 points on license

A quick search of the Georgia Department of Driver Services website will tell you how many points you have on your license. Drivers who have 15 or more points on their license in a two year period will have their license suspended. While this may seem like there is a lot of room to make mistakes, a single speeding ticket can carry up to 6 points. Thankfully, Georgia allows for a reduction of up to 7 points every five years with completion of an approved Defensive Driving course.

If you receive a citation for violating the Hands Free law, there is hope. If you can show the court that you purchased a phone mount or other acceptable Bluetooth device after receiving the citation, your charge may be dropped. However, drivers are only permitted to use this “Get Out of Jail Free” card once.

Our attorneys have years of experience in local traffic courts and are often able to get the charges or points reduced for our clients. If you have any questions about the new law, or need help with a traffic citation please give us a call at (770) 795-7751 or email info@semraulawfirm.com to schedule a free consultation.

For a full description of the law, please visit http://www.headsupgeorgia.com/handsfree-law/.

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