A man in Fulton County has been accused of injuring two pedestrians as well as his own two-year-old daughter after allegedly losing control of his vehicle, sideswiping a parked car, and hitting a power pole.
According to reports, the man, Khianii Jackson, was arrested on twelve different charges including texting while driving in Georgia.
As a Georgia DUI Lawyer, I will outline the law behind texting while driving, also known as distracted driving.
Distracted Driving in Georgia
Distracted Driving in Georgia is defined by Georgia Law in O.C.G.A. §40-6-241 as:
All drivers operating a motor vehicle on any highway of this state are prohibited from:
- Holding or supporting, with any part of the body, a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device.
- Writing, sending or reading any text-based communication, including a text message, instant message, e-mail or internet data.
- Watching, recording, or broadcasting a video or movie.
This is the law after the changes passed last year with the Hands Free Georgia Law. The penalties if a driver is convicted of distracted driving include the following punishments. For a first time conviction, the penalty is 1 point added to your driver's license and a $50.00 fine. For a second time conviction, the penalty is 2 points added to your driver's license and a $100.00 fine. For a third or another subsequent convictions, the penalty is 3 points added to your driver's license and a $150.00 fine.
There are exceptions to the law which allow a driver to handle his or her phone. First, a driver can use his or her phone for reporting a traffic crash, medical emergency, fire, criminal activity or hazardous road conditions. Next, a driver can use his or her phone if he or she is an employee or contractor of a utility service provider acting within the scope of their employment while responding to a utility emergency. Third, a driver can use his or her phone if he or she is a first responder (law enforcement, fire, EMS) during the performance of their official duties. And finally, a driver can use his or her phone if he or she is in a lawfully parked vehicle—this does not include vehicles stopped for traffic signals and stop signs on the public roadway.
As with most of the charges I cover on this site - distracted driving can be the reason to pull a driver over and start a DUI investigation. Many of our clients are pulled over for texting or some other very minor traffic violation. At this point, the driver is subject to arrest and prosecution like any other driver, pulled over for any other reason. Don't text and drive.