Search form

Georgia Bans Hand-Held Devices While Driving

By Todd Van Dyke and Mary Claire Smith
  • May 14, 2018

Georgia has become one of 16 states in the country that bans the use of hand-held devices while driving. Governor Nathan Deal signed “Hands-Free Georgia Act” (House Bill 673) into law on May 2, 2018. The new law takes effect on July 1, 2018.

The Act makes it illegal for drivers to “physically hold or support, with any part of his or her body,” a wireless telecommunications device. It will be illegal for drivers to make and receive telephone calls, send and receive text messages or emails, post on social media, or browse the internet with a hand-held device while driving (including while stopped at a traffic light). Drivers must use an earpiece or wireless device, including a smartphone watch, for making calls, sending or receiving texts, or for navigational purposes.

Drivers will be allowed to hold a phone only while driving in limited circumstances, including to make calls to report a traffic accident, criminal activity, medical emergency, or hazardous condition.

Beginning on the Act’s effective date, law enforcement officers will issue citations to drivers observed using hand-held devices. Penalties for violating the statute can include fines up to $150.

In enacting the statute, the Georgia legislature aims to reduce the number of motor vehicle accidents and fatalities caused by distracted driving.

What Does It Mean for Employers?

Employers who do not have a specific policy or provision prohibiting the use of hand-held devices while driving in their employee handbook should consider including one. The policy should make it clear that it is illegal under Georgia law. This is especially important for employers in the trucking, transportation, delivery, roadside assistance, or any similar industries in which their employees frequently drive for work.

Until the new law goes into effect, only texting while driving has been prohibited in Georgia. Thus, even if employers already have policies addressing the use of cell phones while driving, those policies may not fully address the scope of the prohibited activity under the statute or the limited exceptions. All employers are encouraged to review their current cell phone or safety policies, and consider revising them as necessary to comply with the new law.

If you have any questions about the Act or other developments affecting employers, please contact the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work.

©2018 Jackson Lewis P.C. This Update is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney/client relationship between Jackson Lewis and any readers or recipients. Readers should consult counsel of their own choosing to discuss how these matters relate to their individual circumstances. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the express written consent of Jackson Lewis.

This Update may be considered attorney advertising in some states. Furthermore, prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Jackson Lewis P.C. represents management exclusively in workplace law and related litigation. Our attorneys are available to assist employers in their compliance efforts and to represent employers in matters before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. For more information, please contact the attorney(s) listed or the Jackson Lewis attorney with whom you regularly work.

See AllRelated Articles You May Like

April 24, 2018

Iowa Amends Tough Drug Testing Law to Lower Standard for Positive Alcohol Tests

April 24, 2018

Beginning July 1, 2018, private employers in Iowa may take action based on an employee’s alcohol test result of .02 grams of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of breath. The lower standard was enacted under a 2018 amendment to the Iowa drug testing law (Iowa Code Section 730.5). Prior to the amendment, employers could not take action... Read More

February 21, 2018

Maine Recreational Marijuana Law Limits Drug Testing, Disciplinary Consequences Imposed by Employers

February 21, 2018

A provision of Maine’s recreational marijuana law prohibits employers from taking adverse employment actions for off-premises marijuana use, as of February 1, 2018. This law effectively prevents Maine employers from testing for marijuana for pre-employment purposes. The law also affects employers who employ employees subject to federal... Read More

January 29, 2018

Fitness Industry Workplace Law Update – Winter 2018

January 29, 2018

Welcome to our premiere issue! Our goal is to keep fitness industry clients and contacts informed about employment and labor law issues that may affect your organizations. We hope you find this newsletter valuable and invite you to share it with interested colleagues and contacts. In this issue, we provide a brief summary of hot... Read More

Related Practices