Georgia's Hands Free Law likely to be discussed for Alabama

(WTVY News 4)
Published: Jan. 13, 2020 at 6:03 PM CST
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Georgia's Hands Free Law has been in effect since July 2018.

It requires people to put their phones down while driving, and it will likely be considered in Alabama this legislative session.

"We still see plenty of people operating with cell phones in their hands,” said Blakely Police Chief Will Caudill. “I've even seen them up on the steering wheel, where they're trying to look over the steering wheel and still hold a phone.”

The Blakely Police Department has spent the past 18 months incorporating the hands free law into its regular patrol checklist.

They spent the first few months in a grace period so drivers could get used to the change, but now...

"We are enforcing that law. In the city court of Blakely, there's been 13 cases that have come through city court,” said Caudill.

The Hands Free Law states that you can't use your hand or any other part of your body like your lap to support your phone. So, you have to either plug it in or Bluetooth it and then mount it, then you'll be alright. The second you pick that phone back up again, then you're breaking the law.

One Georgia state trooper said one of the biggest impacts of the law is that it is now a primary offense that allows them to pull someone over.

Which can lead to other charges.

"It may go in to somebody having an expired or invalid driver's license,” said Caudill. “They may be an impaired driver you find out."

Research from the University of South Carolina found traffic deaths in Georgia fell 3.4% in 2018, when the law had only been in effect for six months.

That may not sound overwhelming, but it's 53 lives saved.

"Anything that we as public safety can do to enforce the laws that will have an effect on public safety is obviously a good thing,” said Caudill.

Alabama State Representative Paul Lee told WTVY the Hands Free Law will likely be up for debate at the upcoming legislative session.

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