2018-06-08 / Viewpoint

Hands-Free Georgia Act takes effect July 1

1st Lt. Michael A. Marchman Jr.
Legal Assistance Attorney

Metro Creative Connection Metro Creative Connection Georgia House Bill 673 is the new Georgia law that becomes effective on July 1. It amends Title 40 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated relating to motor vehicles and traffic. The new law is called the “Hands- Free Georgia Act.”

The major updates that will have an immediate effect on all Georgia drivers are the provisions relating to cell phone use while driving. Under the new Georgia law, no individual is allowed to physically hold or support any wireless device with any part of his or her body. This restriction also applies to stand-alone electronic devices, like iPods or iPads. Some of the prohibited actions listed in the new law include, but are not limited to, texting, sending and receiving emails, posting on social media and browsing the internet while driving. This includes if you are stopped at a red light. In order to legally use your phone under the new law, you must be pulled over and lawfully parked. The restrictions set forth in the new “Hands-Free Georgia Act” are very similar to the current Fort Gordon traffic regulations. Under Fort Gordon Regulation (FG) 210- 3, cell phone use is prohibited while driving. If your cell phone is in your hand for any purpose, it is presumed you were using it.

The new law also lays out the consequences for violating the Hands-Free Act. For a first time conviction, with no prior convictions within the past 24 months, a fine of no more than $50.00 will be assessed and 1 point on your license will be added. For a second conviction within a 24 month period of time, a fine of no more than $100.00 will be assessed and 2 points will be added to your license. A third violation within a 24 month period of time will come with a fine of no more than $150.00 and 3 points on your license. Law enforcement will be working to educate all motorists in the first few months of this law; however, drivers should not expect to automatically receive a warning if they are stopped for violating the Hands-Free Georgia Act.

While you are not allowed to physically hold your phone while driving, the law does allow for the use of certain devices. For example, use of earpieces, headphones and watches that conduct voice-based communication are within the legal limits of the new law. Also, you are allowed to use your wireless device for navigation purposes, so long as the phone is not being physically held or supported by any part of the body. Violations of the law will not be assessed if use of the phone was for reporting a traffic accident, medical emergency, fire, actual or potential criminal act or road conditions that cause an immediate and serious traffic or safety hazard.

If you have any questions regarding the new Hands-Free Georgia Act you should visit your Fort Gordon Legal Assistance Office at 267 Heritage Park Lane, Building 35202. It is located in the second building behind Huddle House off of Avenue of the States Drive on Fort Gordon. Office hours can be found at www.gordon.army.mil/osja/assistance.htm.

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