Georgia has joined most of nation in its recent move to crack down on distracted driving. Georgia’s new distracted driving bill, HB673 essentially makes talking on a cell phone while operating a car illegal. The amount of car accidents caused by distracted driving seems to be on the rise. Of course, data obtained from accidents caused by distracted drivers is not the most reliable. We are sure the accident rate caused by distracted drivers is higher than any reported data.
What the new distracted driving bill means to Georgia Drivers
Governor Deal signed HB 673 into law. The bill prohibits actions which distract drivers from operating vehicles in a safe manner. HB 673 provides definitions for the safe use of wireless devices while operating a motor vehicle. HB673 also provides definitions for punishment, assessment on points. We will have a copy of the bill down below.
The new bill which will go into effect on July 1st, 2018. It will require all drivers who want to use the phone while driving, to use a hands free device. It was already illegal to text and drive in Georgia, now you must use a hands free device while operating a truck or car.
Most newer cars are equipped with bluetooth to combat this issue. Other driver in Georgia need not to fear if there car is not equipped with hands free devices from the factory such as a bluetooth device. Aftermarket companies have already created affordable options for the users of such cars, one of those devices is a Parrot.
A look at HB 673
We have written HB673 so that average person can understand it. Let’s face it, most of us are not lawyers, we don’t understand all the codes and whatnot. We can’t pull all the lawyer lingo out. However, we did try to write so that the average person would be able to understand what it says
Georgia House Bill 673
To amend Title 40 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to motor vehicles and traffic, so as to prohibit actions which distract a driver while operating a motor vehicle; to provide for the proper and safe use of wireless telecommunications devices while driving; to provide for definitions; to provide for violations; to provide for punishments; to provide for the assessment of points upon conviction; to provide for additional fines to be collected by the Department of Driver Services; to provide for applicability; to provide for punishments for homicide by vehicle and for serious bodily injury by vehicle when driver was operating such motor vehicle while using a wireless telecommunications device; to correct cross-references; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.
SECTION 1. Point Assessment
Title 40 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to motor vehicles and traffic, is amended by revising paragraph (1) of subsection (c) of Code Section 40-5-57, relating to suspension or revocation of license of habitually negligent or dangerous driver and point system, as follows:
Aggressive driving -6 points
Reckless driving -4 points
Unlawful passing of a school bus -6 points
Improper passing on a hill or a curve -4 points
- Exceeding the speed limit by more than 14 miles per hour but less than 19 miles per hour -2 points
- Exceeding the speed limit by 19 miles per hour or more but less than 24 miles per hour-3 points
- Exceeding the speed limit by 24 miles per hour or more but less than 34 miles per hour -4 points
- Exceeding the speed limit by 34 miles per hour or more- 6 points
- Disobedience of any traffic-control device or traffic officer -3 points
- Too fast for conditions -0 points
- Possessing an open container of an alcoholic beverage while driving – 2 points
Failure to adequately secure a load, except fresh farm produce, resulting in loss of such load onto the roadway which results in an accident -2 points
- Violation of child safety restraint requirements, first offense-1 point
- Violation of child safety restraint requirements, second or subsequent offense -2 points
- Violation of usage of wireless telecommunications device-3 points
- Second or subsequent violation of usage of wireless telecommunications device requirements Operating a vehicle-4 points
- All other moving traffic violations which are not speed limit violations-3 points
Suspension of Driver Licenses (point based)
The commissioner shall suspend the driver’s license of any person who has accumulated a violation point count of 15 or more points in any consecutive 24 month period, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which convictions were obtained to the date of the most current arrest for which a conviction is obtained.
A second or subsequent plea of nolo contendere, within the preceding five years, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which pleas of nolo contendere were accepted to the date of the most current arrest for which a plea of nolo contendere is accepted, to a charge of committing an offense listed in this subsection shall be considered a conviction for the purposes of this Code section. At the end of the period of suspension, the violation point count shall be reduced to zero points.
A court may order a person to attend a defensive driving course approved by the commissioner pursuant to Code Section 40-5-83 for any violation for which points are assessed against a driver’s license under this subsection or may accept the attendance by a person at a driver improvement clinic approved by the commissioner pursuant to LC 39 1738
Code Section 40-5-83 after the issuance of a citation for such offense and prior to such person’s appearance before the court, in which event the court shall reduce the fine assessed against such person by 20 percent, and no points shall be assessed by the department against such driver. The disposition and court order shall be reported to the department and shall be placed on the motor vehicle record with a zero point count.
This plea may be accepted by the court once every five years as measured from date of arrest to date of arrest.”
SECTION 2. Definitions
- Said title is further amended by revising Code Section 40-6-241, relating to driver to exercise due care and proper use of radios and mobile telephones allowed, as follows:
- (a) As used in this Code section, the term
- (1) ‘Department’ means the Department of Driver Services.
- (2) ‘Hands-free accessory’ means an attachment or feature on a wireless telecommunications device that allows the driver of a motor vehicle to engage in wireless communication without such individual holding such wireless telecommunications device in his or her hands or supporting such wireless telecommunications device with his or her head and shoulder.
‘Wireless communication’ means any of the following actions performed using a
wireless telecommunications device:
- Writing or reading a text based communication
- Initiating the exchange of data
(4) ‘Wireless telecommunications device’ means a cellular telephone, a text-messaging device, a personal digital assistant, a stand-alone computer, a global positioning system receiver, a wearable device, or any other substantially similar wireless device that is used to initiate or receive communication or information.
A wireless telecommunications device does not include a radio, citizens band radio, citizens band radio hybrid, commercial two-way radio communication devices, subscription based emergency communications, prescribed medical devices, amateur or ham radio devices, or in-vehicle security, navigation, and remote diagnostics systems.
(b) A driver shall exercise due care in operating a motor vehicle on the highways of this state and shall not engage in any actions which shall distract such driver from the safe operation of such vehicle
No individual shall operate a motor vehicle on any highway of this state while:
(A) Conducting wireless communication without a hands-free accessory engaged;
(B) Using more than a single touch or swipe of a finger on a wireless telecommunications device to initiate or terminate wireless communication
(C) Reaching for a wireless telecommunications device in such a manner that requires the driver to maneuver in such a way that he or she is no longer in a seated driving position properly restrained by a safety belt.
No individual shall operate a motor vehicle on any highway of this state while
watching motion upon the screen of a wireless telecommunications device other than those related to the functioning or navigation of the vehicle.
Punishment for using hand held devices
(d) Each violation of this Code section shall constitute a separate offense.
(e) Any person convicted of violating this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor which shall be punishable with a fine of not less than $150.00 and upon the second and any subsequent conviction shall also be required to complete a defensive driving course approved by the commissioner pursuant to Code Section 40-5-83 within 120 days following his or her conviction; provided, however, that if the defendant is incarcerated and such course cannot be completed within 120 days, such course shall be completed within 90 days of his or her release from custody.
(f)(1) In addition to any other fines or penalties imposed by any local jurisdiction or the department, the department shall administer and collect a fee from any driver who is convicted of a violation of subsection (c) of this Code section. Such additional fine shall be set by the judge and included in the notice of conviction to the department. Upon the first conviction of such offense, the additional fine shall be not less than $150.00 nor 120 more than $300.00. Upon the second conviction of such offense, the additional fine shall be not less than $250.00 nor more than $500.00. Upon the third or subsequent conviction of such offense, the additional fine shall be not less than $500.00 nor more than $750.00.
(2) The department shall notify offenders of the imposition of a fee under this subsection within 30 days after receipt of a qualifying ticket and notice of conviction. Failure to pay the fee imposed by this subsection within 90 days after receipt of the notice shall result in the suspension of the driver’s license or driving privileges of the offender, and, in addition to the existing fees and penalties, an additional fee of $50.00 shall be assessed, payable upon the application for reinstatement of the driver’s license or driving privileges.
Notice shall be provided by the department to the offender by first-class mail to the address shown on the records of the department. Such mailed notice shall be adequate notification of the fee imposed by this subsection and of the offender’s ability to avoid a driver’s license suspension by paying such fee prior to the effective date of the suspension. No other notice shall be required to make the driver’s license suspension effective.
(3) The department shall be authorized to promulgate rules and regulations to implement the provisions of this subsection.
(4) All fees collected under the provisions of this subsection shall be deposited in the general fund of this state with the intent that these moneys be used to fund a trauma care system in Georgia and the direct and indirect costs associated with the administration of this subsection. The Office of the State Treasurer shall separately account for all of the moneys received under the provisions of this subsection.
Exceptions to the new Law
(g) The provisions of subsection (c) of this Code section shall not apply when the prohibited conduct was engaged in:
- (1) While reporting a traffic accident, medical emergency, fire, criminal act or potential criminal act, or serious road hazard;
- (2) By a public utility employee or contractor acting within the scope of his or her employment while responding to a public utility emergency;
- (3) 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
- (4) While in a motor vehicle which is lawfully parked.”
Now i disagree with some of this section. Law enforcement officials. I have seen officers speaking on cell phones that did not appear relative to work while driving. I have seen them hold up traffic at a light because they were un attentive to the light changing because they were texting on their own phone.
Said title is further amended by revising Code Section 40-6-241.1, relating to definitions, prohibition on certain persons operating a motor vehicle while engaging in wireless communications, exceptions, and penalties, as follows: 40-6-241.1.
Said title is further amended by revising Code Section 40-6-241.2, relating to prohibition on persons operating a motor vehicle while writing, sending, or reading text based communications, prohibited uses of wireless telecommunication devices by drivers of commercial vehicles, exceptions, and penalties for violation, as follows: 40-6-241.2.
SECTION 5 Homicide
Said title is further amended by revising Code Section 40-6-393, relating to homicide by
vehicle, as follows:
(a) Any person who, without malice aforethought, causes the death of another person through the violation of subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-163, subsection (c) of Code Section 40-6-241, Code Section 40-6-390 or 40-6-391, or subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-395 commits the offense of homicide by vehicle in the first degree and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than three years nor more than 15 years.
Leaves the scene of an accident
(b) Any driver of a motor vehicle who, without malice aforethought, causes an accident which causes the death of another person and leaves the scene of the accident in violation of subsection (b) of Code Section 40-6-270 commits the offense of homicide by vehicle in the first degree and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than three years nor more than 15 years.
(c) Any person who causes the death of another person, without an intention to do so, by violating any provision of this title other than subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-163, subsection (c) of Code Section 40-6-241, subsection (b) of Code Section 40-6-270, Code Section 40-6-390 or 40-6-391, or subsection (a) of Code Section 40-6-395 commits the offense of homicide by vehicle in the second degree when such violation is the cause of said death and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished as provided in Code Section 17-10-3.
(d) Any person who, after being declared a habitual violator as determined under Code Section 40-5-58 and while such person’s license is in revocation, causes the death of another person, without malice aforethought, by operation of a motor vehicle, commits the offense of homicide by vehicle in the first degree and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than five years nor more than 20 years, and adjudication of guilt or imposition of such sentence for a person convicted may be suspended, probated, deferred, or withheld but only after such person shall have served at least one year in the penitentiary.”
SECTION 6. Serious Injuries
Whoever, without malice, shall cause bodily harm to another by depriving him or her of a member of his or her body, by rendering a member of his or her body useless, by seriously disfiguring his or her body or a member thereof, or by causing organic brain damage which renders the body or any member thereof useless through the violation of subsection (c) of Code Section 40-6-241 or Code Section 40-6-390 or 40-6-391 shall be guilty of the crime of serious injury by vehicle. A person convicted under this Code section shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than 15 years.”
SECTION 7. Commercial
Said title is further amended by replacing “Code Section 40-6-241.2” with “Code Section 40-6-241” wherever the former occurs in:
- (1) Code Section 40-5-142, relating to definitions relative to commercial drivers’ licenses;
- (2) Code Section 40-5-159, relating to violations by commercial drivers’ license holders; and
- (3) Code Section 40-6-165, relating to operation of school buses.
All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.
States that have similar bans
Texting ban-No texting from any device that can send or receive a text messages
Hand held ban- Must use hands free device (bluetooth)
- Alabama -text ban
- Alaska-text ban
- Arkansas-text ban
- California-Hand held and text ban
- Colorado-text ban
- Connecticut-Hand held and text ban
- Delaware-Hand held and text ban
- DC-Hand held and text ban
- Georgia-Hand held and text ban ( in law July 1st 2018)
- Hawaii-Hand held and text ban
- Nevada-Hand held and text ban
- New Hampshire-Hand held and text ban
- New Hampshire-Hand held and text ban
- New Jersey-Hand held and text ban
- New Mexico-Hand held and text ban
- NY-Hand held and text ban
- Oregon-Hand held and text ban
- Rhode Island-Hand held and text ban
- TN-text-phone in school zones
- Texas-text-phone in school zones
- Vermont-Hand held and text ban
- Washington-Hand held and text ban
- WV-Hand held and text ban
*Hand-held Cell Phone Use Ban: 16 states prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving.
*All Cell Phone ban: No state bans all cell phone use for all drivers, but 38 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice or teen drivers, and 21 states and D.C. prohibit any cell phone use for school bus drivers.
*Missouri prohibits text messaging by novice or teen drivers.