Majority of Georgians aware of Hands Free law, but Snellville reports increase in illegal phone usage
SNELLVILLE, Ga. - Chances are you know about Georgia’s Hands Free Driving Law. But the question is: Do you follow it? New data from Snellville Police reveal a dramatic increase in people caught breaking the law.
The department issued 4,342 citations for illegal phone usage in 2019. To put that in perspective, that's nearly 14 times as many tickets as in 2018, at 312.
Why the stark increase? Snellville Police said old habits die hard.
“It looked to me, for the first several months, people stopped using their phones right after the law came in, then sort of took a relaxed posture over about four, five, six months, and now I really see a lot of it,” said Det. Jeff Manley, Snellville Police.
Georgia's Hands Free Law forbids a driver from having a phone in their hand or touching any part of the body while behind the wheel. It went into effect in July of 2018.
AAA reports 98 percent of Georgians are aware of the rule, but even so, police said drivers have reverted back to old ways.
Fox 5 spotted at least six drivers, phones in hands, over the course of a single greenlight along Scenic Highway, near Dogwood Road.
“We all have these electronic devices,” Manley said. “They're very important to us, we use them a lot, but you've got to put it down, you've got to put it down. It’s dangerous.”
That's why Manley said the department is cracking down on distracted driving, not as a money-maker as some have accused, but to fend off a habit that is the number one cause for car accidents in the area.
The fine for a first time offender is $50, but you can actually have that charge dropped in court by showing you've since obtained a hands free compatible device.