Smyrna is the first city in Georgia that has passed a hands-free driving law. After hearing testimony from concerned citizens and grieving parents, Smyrna has banned drivers from having phones in their hands while driving within their city limits. Georgia currently has a statute that addresses texting and driving, but the city of Smyrna wanted a broader law to discourage distracted driving.
Current Georgia law states: “No person 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. Any person who violates this statute will be punished by a fine of $150.00. The law is commonly referred to as Georgia's Texting and Driving law. Technically, it is Georgia's Distracted Driving law.
Smyrna's ordinance passed on Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018 and states that drivers are not allowed to have phones in their hands while driving in the city limits. The exception is that drivers are allowed one touch for things such as answering a phone call or starting their GPS. The councilmen stated that they wanted the law to be more restrictive than the Georgia law to provide additional safety to citizens. Violators of the Smyrna statute can be fined up to $150.
Residents worked with the councilmen on drafting the ordinance and were extremely supportive of the new law. Some of the people who spoke heavily in favor of the law were the parents of Emily Clark. Clark was one of the five Georgia Southern girls who died in a seven-car accident in April 2015. Clark was 20 years old and was a nursing student. Clark's parents do not want that to happen to anyone else and greatly advocated for the passing of this law.
Smyrna police will be giving drivers a 45-day grace period until they start ticketing drivers, and the law will not officially go into effect until April 2, 2018. Furthermore, the statute is only good for two years, after which the data will be compiled and evaluated to see if the law is accomplishing its intended purpose.
There is no doubt that distracted driving has caused and continues to cause countless accidents and deaths. We will see if Smyrna's new law will be successful and will be implemented across the state.
If you have received a traffic ticket in Georgia, contact the Office of Richard Lawson today. Our Georgia Traffic Ticket Attorneys have over 50 combined years of defense experience and will zealously fight for you. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.