As of July 1, a new crime: Driving while holding cellphone

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Man hold cellphone while driving. Photo/Shutterstock.
Man hold cellphone while driving. Photo/Shutterstock.

New hands-off rules apply to golf carts, too

The longtime practice of holding that phone to your ear while driving to your next destination is about to come to a screeching halt. The Hands-Free Georgia Act takes effect July 1 and prohibits holding a phone or supporting it with any part of the body while driving a vehicle or golf cart. Drivers beware, the new law comes with no grace period.


Above, driver operates a cellphone with his hand while the vehicle is moving. As of Sunday, that’s illegal. Photo/Shutterstock,


The Hands-Free Georgia Act prohibits holding or supporting a wireless telecommunications device while driving. Additionally, drivers cannot write, send or read texts, instant messages, emails or internet data while holding the device. Beyond that, drivers cannot listen to music through earpieces, record or broadcast a video or watch a video unless that data pertains to the vehicle’s navigation.

The bill does permit hands-free technology, such as bluetooth, headphones, earbuds or a smart watch and voice-based communication.

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) recently noted that there will be no grace period after the July 1 implementation date.

GOHS also cleared up a question about the use of a phone that is not being held or supported by the body. Drivers will be allowed to:

• Use their phone for voice communications on a hands-free basis

• Touch their phone for dialing, receiving or ending a call as long as the driver is not holding or supporting the phone

• Use their phone for GPS navigation apps

• Use voice-to-text technology

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta), clarified that drivers can use streaming music applications in their vehicles, according to georgiapol.com.

As with other violations, this one comes with a penalty. A first offense will bring a $50 fine and one point on the license, a $100 fine and two points on the license for a second offense and a $150 fine and three points for a third and subsequent offenses.

For more information on the new law visit http://www.headsupgeorgia.com/

To view a copy of the bill visit http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20172018/HB/673

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that, in 2015, there were more than 3,000 deaths from distraction-affected crashes.

Texting while driving in Georgia was prohibited in 2010. An NHTSA study showed that texting is among the worst driver distractions.