Hands-Free Driving Law continues to impact Statesboro

Emma Smith

Law enforcement officials in Statesboro continue to enforce House Bill 673, also known as the “Hands-Free Georgia Act,” which went into effect July 1.

Madison Warren, community information specialist for the Statesboro Police Department, said there have been five citations issued in Statesboro since the law was enacted.

Georgia Southern Police Chief Laura McCullough said no citations have been given by the department; however, five warnings have been issued.

Chief’s thoughts

McCullough said she feels the law is important because it was put in place to save lives on the road.

“By making it clear that no texting or phone calls can be made while driving, it reinforces what is and isn’t allowed while driving,” McCullough said.

McCullough said that, by making the law clearer about when drivers may use their phones, it makes the law easier to enforce.

“The previous law only prevented texting and reading text while driving but still allowed drivers to talk on the phone,” McCullough said. “It made it difficult for law enforcement officials to clearly discern whether someone was texting on the phone or pulling up a contact number to make a phone call.”

For the law to be fully effective, McCullough said drivers need to know that they are not allowed to handle their phone at all to make or receive calls or texts at any time while they are driving, including while sitting at a red light.

About the law

The law made it illegal for drivers to physically hold or support any kind of electronic device while operating a vehicle. Earpieces, GPS apps and any devices that don’t have to be operated manually are allowed.

In addition, drivers are prohibited from recording or broadcasting videos on a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device, with the exception of continuously recording or broadcasting video within or outside of the motor vehicle with dash cameras.

Further exceptions to the act include:

  • While reporting a traffic accident, medical emergency, fire, an actual or potential criminal or delinquent act, or road condition which causes an immediate and serious traffic or safety hazard.
  • By an employee or contractor of a utility services provider acting within the scope of his or her employment while responding to a utility emergency.
  • By a law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical services personnel, ambulance driver, or other similarly employed public safety first responder during the performance of his or her official duties.
  • While in a motor vehicle which is lawfully parked.

Violating the Hands-Free Georgia Act will result in a $50 fine for the first offense, a $100 for the second and a $150 fine for the third.

For a full run-down of the law, click here.

Emma Smith, The George-Anne News Editor, ganews@georgiasouthern.edu