The first month of the Georgia-Hands Free Law is in the books. As of July 1, 2018, there were more than 900 traffic tickets doled out to drivers who were talking or texting on a cell phone.
But according to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, more citations could be forthcoming soon: They have just started cracking down on violators. The sheriff’s office stated that it wanted to give drivers about one month to become more familiar with the law, but that period ended Aug. 1. According to Sgt. Mark Chestang, deputies in the county began to give out tickets in early August.
The office also noted that it is not keeping track of citations and warnings that it issues on violators as it did last month during its Hands-Free Traffic Initiative. In that 7.5-hour period on July 2 and 3, the office gave out 120 warnings to people who were texting and driving or talking on a cell phone while driving. The sheriff’s office insists the goal of enforcement is not to bring in revenue but to keep everyone on the road safe.
Drivers can be slapped with fines and have points added to their driver’s license if they are ticketed. Initial fines can range from $50 to $150, and one to three points can be assessed.
Richmond County was not the only entity busy this month regarding the new law for texting and driving. The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office first gave out warnings instead of tickets when the law became effective. For now, the sheriff’s office there will continue to give out warnings and not tickets. But it is not clear when the office will begin to toughen its enforcement actions.
The Georgia State Patrol noted that from July 1 to 31 it issued 961 traffic citations around Georgia. The Department of Public Safety noted that most of the citations – 590 – were given to drivers who were either holding or supporting a mobile device while the vehicle was in motion.
Provisions of Hands-Free Law Make Georgia Roads Safer
The Hands-Free Law went into effect July 1 after being passed by the Georgia General Assembly. Major provisions that proponents say will reduce the number of distracted driving accidents, injuries and deaths include:
- Drivers cannot have a phone in their hand or use any body part to support a cell phone.
- Drivers can use a cell phone to make/receive calls only by using speakerphone, earpiece, wireless headphone, or other such wireless technology.
- Headsets and earpieces can be used to make and receive calls but not to listen to music.
- Drivers are prohibited from writing, sending or reading text messages while driving.
- Drivers cannot watch video while driving unless it is for navigation.
Were You Injured by a Distracted Driver? Call Us Today
Although the Georgia legislature has done a good thing with the new hands-free law, there are still far too many Georgians texting and driving. In some cases, this reckless behavior causes serious or fatal car accidents. If you have been hurt by a driver on a cell phone, contact the Mann Law Firm today to learn your legal rights.