The submission of a video submitted by a parent has caused the DeKalb County School District to investigate one of its bus drivers. The video was taken by the parent after they witnessed a bus driver allegedly on her phone texting while steering with her other hand.
The video shows her driving on I-20 while she had her phone in one hand.
As a Georgia DUI Lawyer, I've handled plenty of cases dealing with distracted driving in Georgia because usually it's one of the traffic offenses that is related to driving under the influence. Other related traffic offenses include:
In fact, distracted driving has been illegal since 2010. I've mentioned on a few occasions now the new law that goes into effect on July 1, 2018, which makes even holding your phone while driving illegal.
In today's post I'd like to expand on the differences in the new law.
Texting While Driving in Georgia
The 2010 law is as follows:
“No person who is 18 years of age or older or who has a Class C license shall operate a motor vehicle on any public road or highway of this state while using a wireless telecommunications device to write, send, or read any text based communication, including but not limited to a text message, instant message, e-mail, or Internet data.” O.C.G.A. §40-6-241.2(b).
Another part of the statute prohibits drivers under 18 years of age to use any type of wireless communication while driving (applying to drivers holding their learner's permit or Class D license). O.C.G.A. §40-6-241.1.
Currently, there are exceptions to this statute such as while the car is legally parked or for the purpose of reporting an accident or crime.
Georgia Law defines a wireless telecommunications device as a cell phone, a text messaging device, a digital personal assistant, a stand-alone computer, or anything else that is used to initiate and receive wireless communication.
What can we expect with the new law?
Earlier this year, House Bill 673, otherwise known as the Hands-Free Georgia Act became a law in Georgia. The law requires all drivers to utilize hands-free technology regarding cell phones and other electronic devices while behind the wheel. The purpose of the new law is to amend Title 40 of the O.C.G.A. (referenced above).
The Hands-Free Georgia Act goes into effect starting July 1 of this year.
The Hands-Free Georgia Act edited different portions of Title 40 of the O.C.G.A. and replaced the term “cell phone” with “wireless telecommunications device” as defined above in O.C.G.A. §40-6-241, so as to cut out any confusion as to what constitutes a device.
There is also a new provision that has been added to §40-6 which states that while operating a vehicle on any Georgia road that no one will be permitted to:
- “Physically hold or support, with any part of his or her body, a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device
- Reach for a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device in such a manner that requires the driver to no longer be in a seated driving position or properly restrained by a safety belt
- 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
- Watch a video or movie on a wireless telecommunications device or stand alone electronic device other than watching data related to the navigation of such vehicle
- Record a video on a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device.”
However, driver will be permitted to send a voice-based communication (even if it's automatically converted to be sent as a text message) and to use his or her device for navigation or for global positioning system purposes.
The final added provision is that violating any of the above sections will be considered a misdemeanor. Each provision is charged individually. The penalty includes a minimum fee of $300.
Now, Georgia drivers are facing a misdemeanor if caught texting while driving in Georgia.