On July 1, 2018, Georgia’s Hand Free Law goes into effect. Many people are wondering how the law is changing and what they will be permitted to do under the terms of the new law.

Starting July 1, 2018, the law requires every driver to exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle and not to do anything that will distract the driver from the safe operation of the vehicle. No driver may hold or support with his body a wireless telecommunication device or other stand-alone electronic device. So, you can’t hold your cell phone in your hand, or place it in your lap. The term “Wireless telecommunications device” means a cellular telephone, a portable telephone, a text-messaging device, a personal digital assistant, a stand-alone computer, a GPS receiver, or substantially similar portable wireless device used to send or receive communication, information, or data. But, the Hands Free Law does not include radios, CB radios, CB radio hybrids, commercial two-way radios, subscription-based emergency communication devices, prescribed medical devices, amateur or ham radios, or in-vehicle security, navigation, or remote diagnostics systems.

The law makes an exception for drivers to report a traffic accident, medical emergency, fire, actual or potential delinquent act, or road conditions that cause an immediate and serious traffic safety hazard. The law does not apply to a vehicle that is lawfully parked.

As before, drivers may not read, write, or send any text based communication, except if they are using their GPS navigation system, or using a dictation system to convert speech into a written message. Drivers may not watch videos or movies, or record or broadcast video, except for systems designed to continuously record or broadcast video.

Each violation is a separate offense. For a first conviction, the fine is $50.00. A first conviction also carries a single point. A second conviction within 24 months carries a fine of $100.00, and two points. A third conviction or subsequent conviction in 24 months carries a fine of $150.00, and three points.