The Hands-Free Georgia Act, which comes into effect July 1st without a grace period, prohibits the use of electronic devices without using hands-free technology while driving in most circumstances. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, accidents caused by distracted driving - driving while eating, watching a movie, texting, making a phone call, or doing anything else that prevents the driver from focusing fully on driving - led to more than 391,000 injuries and 3,450 fatalities in 2016 alone. The Georgia Governor's Office of Highway safety has stated that nearly all motor vehicle crashes are the result of distracted driving, and, in response the rising number of crashes across the state has pushed for and succeeded in achieving the ratification of the Hands-Free Georgia Act.
If you have any questions about the Hands-Free Georgia Act or need assistance installing or setting up hands-free technology in your vehicle, please contact us at Hennessy Lexus of Atlanta.

What Exactly is the Hands-Free Georgia Act?

House Bill 673, or the "Hands-Free Georgia Act," is a new law drafted in response to the rising number of vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers to encourage safe driving throughout the state. It was signed by Governor Nathan Deal on May first and will take effect on July 1st. Here's the things you need to know about the new law to avoid feeling it's effects once that happens.

What Does the Hands-Free Georgia Act Do?

The Hands-Free Georgia Act prohibits using, holding, or supporting with another part of your body a cell phone, except in some specific cases. It is worth familiarizing yourself with this law as it comes into effect July first of 2018 and does not include a grace period.

But What Does It Prohibit, Exactly?

While you are driving a vehicle, the Hands-Free Georgia Act prohibits:
Having a phone in your hand or using any part of your body to support a phone
Writing, reading, or sending any text-based communication, such as text messages, instant messages, e-mails, or social media posts while holding your phone
Watching videos, except for the purpose of navigation
Recording videos, including using Skype or Facetime, except for continuously running dashboard cameras.
Using headsets or earpieces for any purposes other than communication, such as for the purpose of entertainment
Reaching for an electronic device if doing so requires you to remove your seatbelt or no longer be in a seated position

What Can I Do While Driving Under The Act?

While you are driving a vehicle, the Hands-Free Georgia Act allows:
Using a GPS system or mapping app such as Google Maps is allowed while driving, but accessing the app, such as to change the address, is prohibited while driving
Using music Streaming apps like Spotify, but you can't touch your phone to skip, start or stop the app while driving
Speaking or texting while using hands-free technology such as the speakerphone, an earpiece, or a Bluetooth device
Wearing and using a smart watch
Using radios, subscription-based emergency communication devices, prescribed medical devices, and "in-vehicle security, navigation or remote diagnostics" systems.
Beginning or ending a phone call using one button
Using a voice-to-text device to send text messages, emails, or other text communication
Using an electronic device while legally parked (not at a stoplight - "lawfully" means off or beside the road in an area open to parking)

What About in Emergencies?

Don't worry, the Hands-Free Georgia Act does allow for the use of electronic devices during emergencies. Drivers are allowed to use their devices if:
Reporting a traffic accident
Reporting a medical emergency
Reporting a fire
Reporting a crime
Reporting hazardous road conditions
Emergency personnel such as police and firefighters are exempt from the law, as are utility employees if they are responding to emergencies.

What Are the Penalties of Breaking the Hands-Free Georgia Act?

Like many of Georgia's driving laws, the penalties of breaking the Hands-Free Georgia Act grow in severity for repeat offenders. On a driver's first infraction in a twenty-four-month period, they are fined fifty dollars and given one point on their license. Drivers appearing before a court for their first violation that can show the court that they have purchased a device that would allow them to comply with the law, such as a Bluetooth hands-free car kit, will not be guilty. On a driver's second infraction within a 24-month period, they are fined one-hundred dollars and given two points on their license. On a driver's third infraction within a
24-month period, they are fined one-hundred and fifty dollars and given three points on their license. Any further infractions may lead to a driver's license being suspended.

How Can I Comply With The Law?

State and local law enforcement recommend the purchase and use of a hands-free device if using a mobile phone while driving. Most new vehicles come with such a device installed in the vehicle and one can usually be installed cheaply on those that do not.

To have such a device installed in your vehicle, please schedule a service appointment using the button below on the left. To download a PDF file containing information about the Hands-Free Georgia Act, click the button below on the right.