Here’s what Georgia’s new hands-free driving law means for you

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What you already know: The hands-free driving law has been the talk of the state since January, so you’ve no doubt heard that it exists. You’ve probably also heard that Gov. Nathan Deal signed the bill into law Wednesday along with the state budget.

What the law means: In short, if you’ve been debating whether or not to buy a Bluetooth device for your car, your lawmakers have made that decision much easier for you. If you want to talk on the phone in your car, you need to either use a Bluetooth device or put your phone on speaker.

When does the law go into effect?: Like most laws in Georgia, July 1 is the effective date for this law. You might be able to pick up your phone and put it to your ear while driving on June 30, but hands off on July 1. There are also a number of other things you can’t be doing with your phone after July 1.

What Y’all Can’t Do: Once July 1 rolls around you won’t be allowed to physically hold the following electronic devices:

  • Cellphone
  • GPS
  • Media Player (iPod or MP3 player)
  • Tablet Computer
  • Any other electronic device.

You are also not allowed to read or write text messages or record or play videos.

What Y’all Can Do: You can record video using a dashcam or other recording device that records continuously. You can also still talk on the phone as long as you are using an earpiece, headset, smartwatch or any other type of hands-free device. You can still use your phone for navigation as long as it is mounted somewhere and you aren’t using your hands to operate it.

The Consequences: If you choose not to be a law-abiding citizen and a police officer catches you with a phone to your ear, you’re going to have to face the consequences. If it is your first offense, you can get a one-time pass if you’re willing to appear in court with proof that you have purchased a hands-free device. After that, you’ll face the following consequences:

  • First Offense: $50 and 1 point on your driver’s license
  • Second Offense: $100 and 2 points
  • Third Offense: $150 and 3 points.