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It’s the Law: The Hands-Free Georgia Act

By Linda Bernard
On July 1, the Hands-Free Georgia Act went into effect, making it illegal in the state of Georgia to hold your “wireless telecommunications device” (or cell phone) while driving a vehicle. Where you are driving includes on college campus roadways as well as sitting stopped at traffic lights or in a traffic jam.
Georgia had previously made texting while driving illegal, but the law was hard to enforce. The new law is meant to clarify what is allowed and what is not. Citations can and will be issued starting July 1 for any violation of the Hands-Free Law, including those where the violation involves a traffic crash. There is NOT a 90-day grace period provision in the Hands-Free Law. A first offense will result in a ticket and fine and/or points on your license. The law states that, “Any person convicted of violating this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor which shall be punishable with a fine of not less than $300.00.”
The new Hands-Free Georgia Act ( is something Governor Deal hopes will save lives and help law enforcement personnel enforce the restrictions on cell phone use while driving. “Just simply saying no texting and driving and having signs on the roadway reminding people of that,” commented Deal when he signed the bill into law, “doesn’t seem to have stopped the process of people holding a phone and texting.”
Police, firefighters, emergency medical personnel, ambulance drivers, other first responders, and utility employees or contractors responding to a utility emergency are exempt from the hands-free requirement.
For the rest of Georgia’s drivers, here is some of what the new law states:

  • Georgia drivers can no longer hold or support a cell phone or other mobile or stand-alone electronic device, like a computer or iPad, while operating a motor vehicle. This includes portable GPS systems or other text messaging devices.
  • Text messaging, emailing, searching the internet, or watching or recording video with a cell phone from behind the steering wheel are all banned. You can do these things only if you are legally parked. Being stopped at a stoplight or in a traffic jam and doing these things is NOT legal.
  • Georgians can use voice-to-text features and one button to make and receive calls hands-free. Drivers can use their cell phones only via speakerphone, earpiece, single-ear headphone, or wireless headphone.
  • Drivers cannot reach for a mobile device if that action means undoing a seat belt or standing up.

The only exception to these new restrictions is if you are making an emergency phone call, such as reporting a crash, a medical emergency, fire, criminal activity, or hazardous road conditions.
Sitting at a traffic light with your phone in your lap, looking down, and not observing your surroundings is a dead give-away, even if no one can see your cell phone or other device.
Links for additional information:,

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