Hawk Law Group | October 20, 2023 | Car Accidents
Everyone knows that using a cell phone while driving can increase the chance of being in an accident. However, it’s important to take a good look at the legal and financial consequences that come along with using your cell phone while driving in Georgia.
Even if you think you can get away with quickly shooting off a text while behind the wheel, being found guilty of using a cell phone can seriously impact your driving record and finances, especially if you are involved in a crash.
Georgia’s Cell Phone Laws
In 2018, the Hands-Free Georgia Act went into effect. This act significantly limited how Georgia drivers can use their cell phones and other electronic devices while operating a vehicle.
Every Georgia driver should know how state law limits cell phone use for drivers. If you’re caught breaking the law while driving, you can be ticketed and held financially liable for any accidents that occur.
Physical Contact With Phones
Georgia’s cell phone laws severely limit how drivers can interact with electronics while operating a vehicle. You are not allowed to hold a cell phone in your hands or on any part of your body while driving. You can only use a cell phone if you connect it to the car’s speaker system, an electronic watch, or earphones.
Sending and Receiving Messages
Georgia drivers aren’t allowed to send or read any text or instant message unless the messaging app allows voice communication. This means that unless your phone or social media app is set to respond to voice-to-text messaging, you have to wait until your car is parked to get caught up with your messages.
The one exception is when voice messaging requires push-button activation. The law specifies you can touch a single button to begin or end voice messaging.
Georgia drivers aren’t allowed to film or watch videos while driving. The sole exception is related to GPS navigation apps. A driver is allowed to have a navigation app running and to glance at the on-screen instructions while driving. However, you can’t actively use the app while operating the vehicle. You need to set up driving directions before you begin operating the vehicle.
Listening To Music
Drivers are allowed to listen to music streaming from a cell phone. However, you aren’t allowed to set up or change the music while the car is in motion. As with GPS, you must set up music beforehand, and you can’t touch the phone or change what you’re listening to while driving.
Exceptions To Georgia Cell Phone Laws
Georgia’s cell phone driving laws are fairly strict. The state aims to reduce the risk of distracted driving accidents as much as possible by severely limiting how drivers interact with their phones. State laws allow few exceptions to the general driving laws.
The only exception that applies to most Georgia drivers is emergencies.
Drivers are allowed to break the rules outlined in the hands-free law if they need to make a call to report:
- An accident
- A medical emergency
- Criminal activity
- A fire
- Dangerous road conditions
The only other exceptions written into the law apply specifically to utility service providers, police, firefighters, and EMTs. All of these individuals are allowed to use their phones when necessary.
It’s important to note that when Georgia drivers are stopped at a red light or stop sign, they’re legally considered to still be driving. You must pull to the side of the road or into a parking lot or driveway to use a cell phone without breaking any of Georgia’s driving laws.
Legal Penalties For Using Your Cell Phone While Driving in Georgia
Georgia has a firm policy in place for punishing drivers who violate the state’s cell phone laws. Repeatedly violating these laws can easily result in the suspension of your Georgia driver’s license.
The state punishes cell phone use while driving using a tiered system:
- First Offense: $50 fine and one point against your license
- Second Offense: $100 fine and two points against your license
- Third Offense: $150 fine and three points against your license
If you rack up enough cell phone violations, you can accrue enough points against your license to have it suspended. Depending on the circumstances that led to the ticket, you might also face additional fines and tickets for infractions like distracted driving or reckless driving.
To be considered a second, third, or higher offense, the cell phone law violation must occur within two years of the first offense. Georgia courts also give drivers the option of having the first offense dropped if the driver can show the court that they have acquired a hand-free device for future use while driving.
Financial Consequences of Causing a Crash While on the Phone
Tickets, fines, and points against your license aren’t the only consequences a Georgia driver faces if they’re caught using a cell while driving. If you end up involved in a car accident and you were using your phone during or just before the crash, your cell phone records can be used against you to prove fault for the crash.
Ultimately, this means that you can be held financially responsible for injuries and property damage to the other driver, while your own injuries and vehicle damage might not even qualify for coverage. When the outcome of a crash is a traffic fatality or a severe injury, cell phone use might even leave you facing criminal charges.
Know Your Legal Options After a Georgia Car Accident
The best way to protect yourself as a Georgia driver is to avoid cell phone use entirely. If you end up in a crash while using your cell phone, you have a lot to lose. You should understand what’s at stake and consult a Georgia car accident lawyer immediately for advice on moving forward.
For more information, please contact the Car Accident lawyers at Hawk Law Group at our nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.
We serve throughout the Central Savannah River Area and its surrounding areas:
Hawk Law Group – Augusta, GA
338 Telfair St, Augusta, GA 30901, United States
(706) 722 3500
Hawk Law Group – Evans, GA
4384 River Watch Pkwy, Evans, GA 30809, United States
(706) 863 6500
Hawk Law Group – Thomson, GA
146 Railroad St A, Thomson, GA 30824, United States
(706) 361 0350
Hawk Law Group – Waynesboro, GA
827 Liberty St, Waynesboro, GA 30830, United States
(706) 437 9122
Hawk Law Group – Aiken County, SC
156 Laurens St NW, Aiken, SC 29801, United States
(803) 226 9089
We also serve in Edgefield County, SC.