How it works: Georgia’s new hands-free law

No more distracted driving? That’s what Georgia lawmakers hope the new hands-free law will accomplish for the state when it takes effect July 1.

“Our firm has seen some horrible catastrophes because of drivers being distracted by their cell phones and smart devices while driving,” Tom Ashenden, founding partner of Ashenden & Associates P.C., said.

Reasons behind the new Georgia law include the alarming number of deaths and injuries from distracted driving. In 2016, more than 3,400  deaths occurred on American roads, while in 2015 there were nearly 400,000 injuries in distracted driving wrecks according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

How will the hands-free law impact drivers?

Reading, writing, or sending text messages are against the law. This also applies to any type of text in an email, internet search, or if you are looking for a song on your iPod. Earpieces and Bluetooth-capable devices are still legal.

Any activity at a stop light is also on the “do not” list. Your vehicle must be in park off the road legally before using devices.

When it comes to screens, GPS or mapping apps are the only options. Drivers will not be able to watch video clips on their devices or record them for that matter.

Georgia will join 15 states that have similar bans on drivers using devices while driving when the law takes effect.

Ashenden & Associates attorney Devin Horowitz said the hands-free law does raise some questions about how potential violations will be enforced.

“I am wary of the possible consequence that it will be easier for law enforcement to pull-over drivers,” Horowitz said. 

He points to plainly visible devices  as sufficient for probable cause, which is legal justification for a traffic stop.

“Further, evidence of whether you were holding or touching a prohibited device is going to be the officer’s word against yours,” Horowitz said.

We at Ashenden & Associates P.C., want to help answer your questions about the law and implications of distracted driving. If you’ve been in an accident or a loved one has died at the hands of a distracted driver, contact our office.

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