Just over a year since Georgia’s hands-free law went into effect and already, the number of tickets issued for violating the offense has increased. The law was put into place in an effort to reduce the amount of car accidents and fatalities caused by distracted driving every day on Georgia’s roads. Since July 1, 2018, Macon alone has issued 113 tickets and hundreds of warnings.
Prior to the new law, it was illegal to text and drive throughout the state of Georgia. However, it was difficult to enforce, as drivers could still legally hold their phone behind the wheel. If they were pulled over they simply had to state they were not texting, and it was difficult to prove otherwise. Typically, law enforcement cannot legally search a phone without a warrant. The new law only requires an officer to see a driver holding a phone in order to pull them over.
“Drivers in Macon and all around Georgia must realize driving while distracted simply is not worth it,” says Attorney Steven A.I. Hart of Hart & Hart. “Not only can the penalties be harsh, but distracted driving takes hundreds of lives every year. There is no text, email, or phone call more important than what is going on in front of you when driving.”
Those penalties can be severe, particularly for repeat offenders. After a first offense, drivers face a $50 fine and one point added to their license. Each offense has higher fines and more points attached to it. That means with enough citations, a driver could lose their license.
One of the reasons given for the increase in tickets was the fact that deputies are specifically looking for distracted drivers on the roads. Now that it is easier for deputies to find drivers holding their phone, they will not hesitate to issue a ticket. This is particularly true given that it has been over a year since the new law went into effect. Law enforcement throughout the state are largely passed the point of simply issuing warnings for a distracted driving violation.