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Georgia Drivers Might Get Small Grace Period With New Hands-Free Law

While the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety says there will be no grace period, some law enforcement agencies say they will observe a short period where they’ll focus on educating drivers about the new Georgia law, which makes it illegal to hold or support a cellphone with any part of your body while driving a car.
While the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety says there will be no grace period, some law enforcement agencies say they will observe a short period where they’ll focus on educating drivers about the new Georgia law, which makes it illegal to hold or support a cellphone with any part of your body while driving a car.
Credit Jeff Chiu / Associated Press file
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Georgia’s new “hands-free” driving law goes into effect July 1. But drivers who get pulled over for holding an electronic device might not get a ticket immediately.

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety says there will be no 90-day grace period for enforcing the law.

However, some law enforcement agencies say they will observe a short period where they’ll focus on educating drivers about the new rules.

In Gwinnett County, that period will last about 30 days. Sgt. Jake Smith says officers there won’t be itching to write traffic tickets during that time.

“However, we do intend to make a lot of traffic stops to make sure as many people as possible are aware of the new requirements,” he said.

Smith says there will be times when officers choose to write tickets. Drivers who cause accidents or injuries in violation of the hands-free law shouldn’t expect a break.

That’s the message from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. It says officers have the discretion to issue tickets as soon as the law goes into effect.

However, the office is also working to educate drivers. It’s set up a website explaining the new rules and where motorists can submit questions.

The Georgia State Patrol says it will leave the decision whether to write tickets for hands-free violations to its troopers.

“Basically, I’m telling all the troopers under my supervision that anytime they see [a driver] holding or supporting an electronic communication device to stop them and use their discretion on how to enforce it,” Sgt. Johnny Ensley said.

The law, which passed the state Legislature earlier this year, makes it illegal to hold or support a cellphone with any part of your body while driving a car. The full text of the law can be found here.