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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

No More Car Selfies: What the "Hands- Free Georgia Act" Means for Drivers in Georgia

Many millennials have struggled with finding that perfect angle or that impeccable amount of sunlight for a quality “selfie”. Although I am an avid user of a number of social media platforms like Snapchat (who doesn’t love a funny dog filter), the dangers associated with using handheld devices while driving cannot be ignored. On May 2, 2018, Governor Nathan Deal signed the “Hands-Free Georgia Act” which is meant to prohibit actions which distract a driver while operating a motor vehicle. Although Georgia has already banned texting while driving, inattentive drivers in Georgia continue to be an issue. The law will go into effect on July 1, 2018.

 

The pertinent section of the Act is provided below:

 

            While operating a motor vehicle on any highway of this state, no individual shall:

(1)  Physically hold or support, with any part of his or her body a:

(A)  wireless telecommunications device, provided that such exclusion shall not prohibit the use of an earpiece headphone device, or device worn on a wrist to conduct a voice based communication; or

(B)  Stand-alone electronic device;

(2)Write, send, or read any text based communication, including but not limited to a text message, instant message, e-mail, or Internet data on a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device; provided, however, that such prohibition shall not apply to:

(A) A voice based communication which is automatically converted by such device to be sent as a message in a written form; or

(B) The use of such device for navigation of such vehicle or for global positioning system purposes;

(3) Watch a video or movie on a wireless telecommunciations device or stand-alone electronic device other than watching data related to the navigation of such vehicle; or

(4) Record or broadcast a video on a wireless telecommunciations device or stand-alone electronic device; provided that such prohibition shall not apply to electronic devices used for the sole purpose of continuously recording or broadcasting video within or outside of the motor vehicle.

 

So…what does all of this mean? In layman’s terms, there is very little drivers may do now when it comes to electronic devices in general. Although earpieces (like a Bluetooth earpiece) or voice based wrist communication devices (like an Apple watch) are permitted, activities that cannot be conducted through voice communication and that are not GPS systems are prohibited. In a response to the continuing issue of distracted drivers, banning drivers from watching videos or movies, or recording videos not intended for continuous recording may seem like an obvious prohibition in the interests of road safety. This Act, however, has even prohibited merely holding your cellular device while driving.

Simple solutions? As the legal landscape in road safety develops, investing in hands free equipment like a Bluetooth earpiece or a device to hold your phone while running GPS systems may be necessary. In closing, to my dog filter-car selfie enthusiasts, I know you’re out there, driving is a great privilege and responsibility that many of us take for granted. I promise your snap to your friend can wait till you get to your destination.

 

Smith, Welch, Webb & White, LLC is recognized as a premier law firm throughout the state of Georgia with expertise in a wide range of areas of law. We have an uncompromising commitment to our clients and community. Our team of experts will be more than happy to provide exceptional service to you, your family, or your business today! Contact Attorney Gerald Chichester at 770-957-3937 or gchichester@smithwelchlaw.com

Any representations regarding the law in this Blog is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog publisher. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 


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