The Georgia Department of Driver Services recently released an updated Distracted Driver Data Report. The data revealed that since Georgia began its crackdown on distracted driving, more than 19,000 drivers have been convicted – this is almost twice the number of convictions from the previous year. Hall County, which was ranked fifth-worst for distracted driving, alone saw 302 more distracted driving convictions than the last year. The DDS report showed that Hall County neighbors Jackson County and Gwinnett County also saw significant increases in distracted driving convictions
As a Hall County DUI Attorney, I wasn't surprised to see Hall County as the fifth-worst county for distracted driving. Though many people assume that distracted driving always involves cell phone use, that is not necessarily the case.
Just over a year ago today, Georgia joined the 20 other states plus Washington D.C. to implement Hands-Free laws. The law was put in place because of concerns about the increases in accidents and deaths linked to distracted drivers. You may have seen the signs urging drivers to “Drive Alert, Arrive Alive,” which are part of the campaign efforts put into place when the hands-free law went into effect.
Distracted driving is defined under Georgia law as any activity that could distract you from safely operating your vehicle while you are driving. The three main kinds of distractions are Cognitive (taking the driver's attention from driving despite looking at the road, such as talking on the phone), Visual (distraction by taking your eyes off the road, such as looking at your GPS Navigation), and Manual (taking your hands off the steering wheel and doing something else in the car, such as texting).
Some examples of everyday activities that have the potential to be distracting to a driver include:
- eating or drinking
- adjusting the radio
- talking to passengers
- brushing hair
- doing makeup
- using a map or GPS
- speaking on the phone
- watching videos
If a law enforcement officer observes a driver engaging in any of these distracting behaviors, they can pull the car over and issue a citation. A first-time offender can receive a $50 fine and one point on their driver's license. After the first offense, the fine amount and point value increase based on the driver's number of previous convictions. If a driver receives 15 points within 24 months, the Georgia Department of Driver Services may suspend the offender's license. For drivers under 21, accumulating 4 points will result in the suspension of the offender's license.
Driving Alert and Arriving Alive should always be your goal when you get into your vehicle. Distracted driving not only jeopardizes your safety, but the safety of others around you as well. Based on my experience as a Hall County DUI Lawyer, I know that if a law enforcement officer sees a distracted driver, they have probable cause to pull the car over. This has led to driver's being further charged if they are found to be driving under the influence as well. If you have been charged with distracted driving or DUI in Hall County, give our office a call. At the Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson, we answer your calls 24/7 – so don't wait. Speak with a qualified attorney now.