Hands Free Georgia Law
Published 8:40 am Wednesday, May 2, 2018
By Prosecuting Attorney’s Council of Georgia
Code Sections 40-6-241.1 and 40-6-241.2 are gone, effective July 1, 2018.
Any distraction driving violation needs to be written under 40-6-241.
“Stand-alone electronic device”
What it is: A device that stores audio or video data files to be retrieved on demand by a user. (Example: iPod)
“Wireless Telecommunications Device”
What it is:
Portable telephones or text-messaging devices
Personal digital assistant
Any similar portable wireless device used to send/receive communications or data
What it is not:
CB Radio or CB Radio Hybrid
Commercial two-way radio (or functional equivalent)
Subscription based emergency communications device
Proscribed medical device
Amateur or ham radio device
In-vehicle security, navigation, or remote diagnostics system
What is prohibited?
School Bus Operations
A school bus driver may not use a wireless telecommunications device or two-way radio while loading or unloading passengers.
A school bus driver may not use a wireless telecommunications device while the bus is in motion, unless it is used in a manner similar to a two-way radio to allow communication with school or public safety officials.
Motor Vehicle Operations
A driver may not physically hold or support a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone computer with any part of their body.
Exceptions: Earpiece, headphone, smart watch
May not write, send, or read any text-based communication.
Exceptions: Voice-based communication automatically converted to written message.
May not watch a video
May not record a video
Exception: Continuous recording/broadcasting (dash cams)
For commercial motor vehicle operators only:
May not use more than a single button to initiate a voice conversation
May not reach for a wireless telecommunications device in such a manner that they are:
No longer in a seated driving position
Or properly restrained by a seat belt
(Note-CMV provisions remain unchanged from previous law (former 4-6-241.2 (b)(2))-avoids conflict with FMCSA regulations).
Exceptions for everybody (40-6-241 (g)):
Reporting a traffic accident, medical emergency, fire, crime, or hazardous road condition
Employee/contractor of utility service provider acting within the scope of their employment while responding to a utility emergency.
By a first responder (police, fire, EMS) during the performance of their official duties
When in a lawfully parked vehicle
What are the penalties?
First offense within a 24-month period (measured from date of last conviction):
1 point (40-5-57(c)(1)(A)(xv))
Fine of not more than $50, with no additional costs/penalties, etc. (40-6-241 (f)(1)(A)
Driver in court for a first violation of 40-6-241 (f)(1) (supporting/holding device) who produces in court a device or proof of purchase of a device that would allow them to comply in the future shall not be guilty. (40-6-241 (f)(2)
Driver must affirm they have not previously used this before (one time only, but no state-wide verification).
Court shall have to determine what constitutes proof of a device.
Second offense within a 24-month period (measured from date of last conviction):
2 points (40-5-57 (c)(1)(A)(xvi))
Fine of not more than $100, with no additional costs/penalties, etc. (40-6-241 (f)(1)(B))
Third or subsequent violation within 24-month period (measured from date of last conviction)
3 points (40-5-57 (c)(1)(A)(xvii))
Fine of not more than $150 (40-6-241 (f)(1)(C))
Possible myths about HB 673: (Things that were considered / in earlier versions of bill that were not in the final bill passed.)
Effective date – There is no effective date in the text of the bill, therefore, it becomes effective on 07/01 should it be signed. (OCGA 1-3-4 (a)(1))
Predicate offense – Distracted driving is not a predicate offense for 1st Degree Vehicular Homicide.
Primary offense – There is no requirement that an officer observe another violation or write any other citation to enforce this code section.
Record of dismissals – DDS will not receive notice of citations that are Noelle proseui’d.