Using Your Phone While Driving is Illegal in Georgia:
We have all been warned about the dangers of cell phone usage while driving. All of us have seen the horror stories on television of those seriously injured or killed as a result of texting and driving. The Georgia General Assembly has passed new laws in response to recent deaths and injuries as a result of cell phone usage while driving.
There are many common misconceptions regarding cell phone usage while driving and what constitutes a violation of the law. Here are a few we hear quite often:
1. I was not driving; I was at a red light and the car was not moving:
The statute states, “shall operate a motor vehicle.” Here, the emphasis is on the definition of the word "operation." Operating a motor vehicle means the keys are in the ignition. The car does not need to be in physical motion to for the police to charge someone with texting and driving. Checking your phone while at a stop light, or surfing the internet while a car is not moving is still a violation of Georgia's texting while driving laws.
2. I was not texting; I was checking my Facebook.
The statute prohibits, sending and reading text messages, emails, and any Internet data usage. Georgia traffic law prohibits surfing Facebook, Instagram, and sending pictures and messages on Snapchat.
3. I was on my iPad and not my cell phone.
Any "wireless telecommunication device" means any phone, text message device, stand-alone computer. A "computer" is also defined as an iPad, a Kindle, or any other electronic tablet.
4. I was following talking on the phone on speaker phone.
All though rarely used by officers, O.C.G.A 40-6-241.2 (b)(2)(A) prohibits the holding of a phone for voice communication. The best way to avoid a citation is to link your phone to your car's blue tooth and speak wirelessly without holding your phone. All though many officers will not cite you for holding the phone while making a phone call while driving, many officers may use this as a reason to initiate a traffic stop, which can lead to other, more serious offenses such as DUI.
5. I was only reaching for my phone.
Reaching for a cell phone while driving is a violation of O.C.G.A 40-6-241.2 (b)(2)(C). The law prohibits reaching for a phone because accidents can occur when people take their eyes off the road, even for a second.
Things to Remember When Driving:
Texting and driving and other violations involving cell phone usage have been passed by the legislature in response to accidents and deaths caused by phones in vehicles.
The best way to avoid a citation for a phone-related offense is to avoid any usage of an electronic device while driving. I know many people use their phones for work while on the go just like I do on a daily basis. If calls need to be made while driving, make sure your phone is connected to Bluetooth before you begin to drive, and your phone is either hooked up to the dashboard or in the seat next to you to avoid any temptation to reach for it. Technology today allows for voice texting without your hands ever leaving the steering wheel.
Remember, no text message or email is more important than your safety and the lives of others. Furthermore, if you cause an accident as a result of using your cell phone, and the accident causes serious bodily injury or death, felony charges will likely ensue as well as civil liability. The bottom line is to be safe; remember, your text message can wait!