Georgia’s “Anti-Texting” Law Continues to Catch Drivers Off-Guard
by Seth Azria on 11/29/2017
In 2010, the Georgia legislature passed a passed a law making it illegal to “write, send, or read any text-based communication, including but not limited to a text message, instant message, e-mail, or Internet data” while operating a motor vehicle on a public Georgia road or highway. Georgia police officers are allowed to stop and ticket people for violating the law even if they are driving safely and haven’t committed any other traffic offense. Since the law passed, thousands of Georgia residents have been ticketed for violation.
Drivers that are convicted of violating this law face a fine of $150 and will have [one point added to their license](https://dds.georgia.gov/points-and-points-reduction). Moreover, if a driver gets into an accident while they are using their smartphone, Georgia courts have determined that they can be presumed negligent in causing the accident.
The law creates exceptions for drivers responding to emergencies and for drivers who are fully parked in a legal parking space. The Law Can Even Apply When a Vehicle is Stopped
One big problem with the law that Georgia residents should be aware of is that, as written, it illegal to text when “operating” a vehicle. Under Georgia law, vehicles that are running are being “operated.” Therefore, even when a car is stopped at a light or in traffic, it is technically still illegal to text or read from a phone.
The upshot is that even if you think you are using a phone at a safe time, you should try to only use cell phones in a hands-free way _anytime_ you are behind the wheel, unless you are fully parked.
The legal team at Azria & Bruffett urges everyone in the Atlanta area to drive attentively, cautiously, and to avoid distractions while driving. If you would like more information about this issue, please contact us today.