As most people are now aware, distracted driving is a significant problem throughout the country, including in the great State of Georgia. From cell phones, tablets, and other electronic devices the distractions are endless. Some studies have even equated the impairment on a person's driving ability to that of consumption of alcohol.
If you have been charged with a distracted driving, or a charge of driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol, an experienced Georgia DUI attorney can defend your case. Just because you are charged with a crime does not mean that you are guilty.
Distracted Driving in Georgia
Due to the increased risks of distracted driving, the Georgia legislature has enacted a new law which took effect on July 1, 2018. The law is meant to curb the tide of distracted driving-related car accidents. It forbids all drivers operating a motor vehicle on any highway in Georgia 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.
Many of the risks of "distracted driving" are similar to those of driving while under the influence. These include car accidents and other traffic offenses which can arise from any distraction.
What This Really Means for You
The language covers a very wide range of conduct while driving, and even prohibits certain "hands-free" technology use if you do not follow the law exactly. The language of the new law prohibits:
- A cell phone touching any part of their body while driving (even just sitting in your lap);
- No texting while driving;
- No phone calls while driving except with hands-free technology;
- Cannot touch the phone to manipulate music players such as Spotify (even to quickly skip to the next song); or
- No watching of Netflix, Hulu, or any other video streaming device while driving.
Following these rules is important to protect your pocketbook and your right to drive.
Georgia Penalties for Distracted Driving
If convicted of a distracted driving charge under the new law, you face the following penalties:
- First Conviction: Fine of $50.00 and 1 point assessed on your driver's license.
- Second Conviction: Fine of $100.00 and 2 points assessed on your driver's license.
- Third Conviction: Fine of $150.00 and 3 points assessed on your driver's license.
First-time offenders can have their charge dropped by proving to the court that they have obtained a mobile device which allows them to talk on the phone with a hands-free device.
While the penalties listed above are less serious than a DUI charge, in many cases the distracted driving may lead to serious accidents and other charges. With proper legal counsel, your rights can be protected.
Consult a DUI Attorney
If you have been charged with distracted driving or DUI in Georgia, you need a knowledgeable attorney to protect your rights. An accident can be caused just as easily by distracted driving as DUI, but just because you are charged with the offense does not mean that you have to plead guilty.