By: Aubrey Brown | WCTV Eyewitness News
April 19, 2018
ATLANTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- With Georgia experiencing a spike in fatal crashes and auto insurance premiums, lawmakers advanced a bill that would make it illegal to hold a cellphone while driving.
The Georgia General Assembly gave final passage to a bill by Republican Rep. John Carson of Marietta that would create a hands-free driving law in the state.
“HB 673 has received extensive input and was thoroughly studied and perfected,” said Rep. Carson. "I am confident this bill will make our state’s roadways safer for all Georgia commuters and decrease the number of distracted driving crashes.”
In Georgia, it is illegal to text behind the wheel, but drivers are allowed to dial and hold their phones. Law enforcement officers say they often cannot tell whether a driver is texting or merely dialing, making it difficult to enforce the law.
If passed, the law would prohibit drivers from holding a cellphone while operating a vehicle. The measure would maintain the ban on texting, emailing or browsing the internet, but would also ban watching or recording videos while driving.
Under the bill, drivers would still be allowed to use GPS navigation and voice-to-text technology.
Governor Nathan Deal has until early May to sign or veto the legislation. If signed, the law would take effect on July 1.
The penalty for a first offense would be $50 and one point on a driver's license. Each subsequent conviction increases the penalty by $50 and a point.
Using a hand-held phone while driving has been banned in 15 states, as well as the District of Columbia.