The Georgia Hands-Free Law was passed in response to the growing problem of distracted driving accidents, mostly related to smartphones. It sets out rules regarding the use of smartphones or similar devices by Georgia motorists. In this article, we’ll discuss what you can and can’t do with your phone while driving, and how to stay safe by avoiding distractions on the road.
When Was the Hands-Free Law Passed in Georgia?
It was signed into law on May 2, 2018, but did not go into effect until July 1, 2018.
What Behavior is Prohibited Under the Georgia Hands-Free Law?
The Georgia Hands-Free Law makes certain behaviors illegal when driving:
One important rule is that you can’t hold or touch your phone while driving.
You can use hands-free technology, such as a Bluetooth headset, to talk on the phone, but you’ll need to set it up before going anywhere since you can’t touch the phone while operating a vehicle.
Headsets or earpieces should only be used for communications, not listening to music or entertainment.
Even with hands-free tech, you’re not allowed to read or write emails, texts, or social media while driving. However, you can use voice-to-text features to send a text message, so you can let your spouse know that you’ll be home late or tell your boss that you’re stuck in traffic.
You should never watch videos while driving, with one exception for GPS or navigational videos. (While watching navigational videos while driving is not illegal under the Georgia Hands-Free Law, it can still be distracting. If at all possible, pull over safely before studying a navigation video in detail.)
You are not allowed to record video while driving, except by using continuously running dash cams. These are mounted in place and do not require driver intervention, so they don’t create a distraction. Additionally, dashcams can sometimes be helpful if you’ve been in an accident and need to prove what happened.
It’s fine to listen to streaming music while driving as long as this doesn’t involve looking at or touching your phone. Some newer cars allow you to control streaming stations with voice commands that work through your vehicle’s audio system. If you need to set up the streaming station on your phone, do so before you begin driving.
The Hands-Free Law does not apply to older technologies like two-way radios or the equivalent, prescribed medical devices, in-vehicle security, or remote diagnostic systems.
What Happens If Someone Breaks the Georgia Hands-Free Law?
A first offense is usually punished with a $50 fine and one point against the offender’s driver’s license, but you can get the charge dropped by obtaining a hands-free device and showing proof to the court. The second offense is a $100 fine and two points against the driver’s license. For three or more offenses, the fine is $150 and three points against the driver’s license.
What if a Distracted Driver Causes an Accident?
If the responding officer finds evidence that the driver was distracted, they will issue a citation for distracted driving as well as any related infractions (running a red light, speeding, etc.). But sometimes the two drivers will have conflicting explanations of what happened. You might recall seeing the other driver with a phone in their hand, for example, while they might claim it isn’t true. There could also be disagreements about who actually caused the accident, with both parties claiming they had the right of way. If there are no other witnesses besides the two drivers, the police may not ticket anyone, and the police report could be inconclusive.
People often ask if this means they’re unable to seek compensation for their damages from the distracted driver. The answer is no, not necessarily. We can perform a more thorough investigation to look for more evidence that the driver was distracted and at fault. Although it certainly helps your case if the other driver was ticketed, it isn’t a requirement to prove fault in a civil case. In many situations, we’re able to find additional witnesses, video evidence from doorbell, surveillance, or traffic cameras, smartphone records, black box data from the vehicle, and more evidence. However, many of these types of evidence have an expiration date – video gets erased to make space on a hard drive, witnesses leave the area, etc. If you were injured due to the actions of a distracted or otherwise negligent driver, please contact a Georgia car accident lawyer as soon as possible so they can get to work building your case.
Why Does the Other Driver’s Insurance Company Say I Was at Fault When the Other Driver Was Distracted?
This is another common question. There are three possible reasons:
The other driver told their insurance company you were at fault so their premiums won’t go up, or they told the responding officers you were at fault, and the insurance company is repeating what the police report says.
The insurance company is looking for an excuse to duck responsibility for paying your claim.
Both of the above.
Insurance adjusters are expected to reduce costs as much as possible, and that means finding any reason they can to reject each claim. In many cases, their client gives them an easy excuse by saying the other party (in this case, you) caused the accident. If there isn’t enough evidence at the scene to prove otherwise, the police report may simply list both conflicting accounts of what happened.
Georgia’s modified comparative fault laws may also add another layer of complication. Under the comparative fault model, an accident doesn’t have to be all one party’s fault. If the matter goes to court, a jury would be tasked with assigning a percentage of fault to each party, and a party with less than 50 percent responsibility could collect damages from the party with a higher degree of fault. Damages would then be reduced by the injured party’s percentage of liability. For instance, if you were found to be 10 percent responsible for the accident, you would lose 10 percent of the damages awarded to you.
What this means is that even if the other driver is ticketed for distracted driving or other infractions, they could still claim you had some fault in the accident, and so could their insurer. The insurance adjuster knows that they don’t have to prove you’re entirely responsible for the crash – they may be able to reduce their liability simply by suggesting you have some fault.
Fortunately, you have options to fight back. An experienced Georgia car accident attorney can help to refute the other driver’s or insurance company’s claims so you can get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
The CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm Is on Your Side
Fighting a car insurance company can be frustrating, especially if you’re still dealing with pain and stress from your injuries. You may be unable to work, struggling to pay medical bills, and trying to figure out how to afford the repairs on your car. If another driver’s negligence caused the crash, their insurance carrier should cover these damages.
The CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm was established just a few short years ago by attorney Ali Awad. Often seen on social media giving no-nonsense legal tips to more than a million followers, Mr. Awad quickly made the firm one of the fastest-growing in the country. He and his team work every day to help those who have been injured due to the negligence of others.
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At the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm, we’re always available to provide a free consultation on your case. We’ll answer your questions and explain the options for pursuing compensation. We don’t want anyone to avoid getting legal help because of upfront costs, so if we take your case, you don’t have to pay us anything until we win or settle it in your favor. The sooner you call us, the sooner we can get to work recovering your damages. Call today at 833-254-2923.
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Frequently Asked Questions
After a personal injury, you're bound to have legal questions. The CEO Lawyer Ali Awad can provide you with answers to these questions, just as he's given answers to his millions of curious social media followers. Take a look at some of the most common personal injury law questions for general information, and then reach out to one of our seasoned attorneys for specific guidance on your case!
To quickly resolve matters following an accident, insurance companies will offer you less than you deserve in compensation for your injuries. Many victims feel pressured to accept these offers as the bills begin to pile up, but that is rarely a good idea. The insurance company is looking to protect its bottom line; and will offer injured victims less than they deserve. An experienced personal injury attorney understands how to negotiate with the insurance company and can look out for your best interests by getting you the compensation you deserve after an injury. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, it is important to avoid negotiating or providing recorded statements to the insurance company without first seeking help from a qualified personal injury attorney.
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Accident victims have a limited time to file a personal injury lawsuit. This time period is referred to as the statute of limitations, and in Atlanta, it lasts only two years. This means that if you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you have only two years to pursue a personal injury suit. If you wait too long to reach out to an experienced attorney, you might be forever barred from seeking the compensation you deserve.
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During your initial consultation with CEO Lawyer team, we will go over the important details of your personal injury accident, which include the nature and extent of your injuries, how your injuries have impacted your ability to earn a paycheck, the cost of your medical treatment, and whether further medical treatment will be required. We will answer any questions you might have, as well, in regards to our experience, our track record of success, and what to expect from the legal process.
Many personal injury victims wonder if they will be able to afford the legal fees required to pursue a lawsuit. CEO Lawyer injury and accident attorneys will not ask for any type of upfront fee unless we are successful in obtaining compensation for you. That means that if you have been harmed in a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall accident, defective product accident, or any other type of personal injury accident, you can absolutely afford to contact our law office today for assistance. In fact, you cannot afford to wait. Reach out today.
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