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Camden Public Safety

Camden, Get ready: Prepare for distracted driving law, starts July 1

Be ready for the new hands-free driving law

On May 2, 2018, Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law the “Hands-Free Georgia Act” bill which will go into effect on July 1. This new distracted driving bill makes Georgia the 16th state in the nation to ban drivers from having a cellphone in their hand

It will be a crime to operate a phone with any part of the body while driving when House Bill 673 rolls out in July — no more getting away with shooting that quick text at a light or skimming that email at 60 mph. But drivers can text if they are using technology that converts voice to text messages.

Fines start at $50 and increase depending on the number of violations.

Law enforcement officers, fire and emergency personnel and employees, and contractors of utility companies are excluded under the law providing that calls are related to their official duties or while responding to a utility emergency.

AllOnGeorgia – Camden asked all local law enforcement how the implementation of the new law would look in the County.

St. Marys Police Chief Tim Hatch said the following via email and Camden County Sheriff Jim Proctor confirmed a similar explanation:

Typically, when there is a new law that is this impactful, we (SMPD) try to get the word out via our Facebook page.  Additionally, we usually give a 30-day grace period where our stops that are related to the new/changing law do not result in a citation, merely a warning, and an educational discussion.

I do not anticipate that this law will be difficult to enforce.  Many people will just hold the phone lower and avoid being noticed, but there are still going to be a lot of violators until the law becomes something that people are regularly thinking about.  Additionally, there will be those that just do not care.  As an example, it is against the law to speed and we regularly enforce speed limits, yet there are always plenty more speeders for us to deal with.

So what if your car does not have Bluetooth capability to drive hands free?

There are Bluetooth technologies that are now able to be plugged into an input jack (auxiliary), USB port, or 12 V-powered outlets in your car.

In many cases, the auxiliary input jack is grouped with a USB port that should provide enough juice to power a Bluetooth receiver. In this case, or if you’ve got a 12V USB charger that has an extra port, it’s best to go with a USB-powered receiver, such as Anker’s SoundSync Drive or the SoundBot. 

If you don’t care about not being able to stream through your vehicle’s stereo, you can purchase a Bluetooth speakerphone that can clip on to the sun visor and pair to your phone. It works just like any other Bluetooth speaker. When a call comes in, both the audio and microphone are handled by the visor-mounted speakerphone.

Many of these devices can be purchased at major retail stores.

For more information about the new hands-free law, visit the following site:

Jeremy Spencer grew up in rural South Georgia and has served as a healthcare provider, high school science teacher, school administrator, and state education official. Jeremy is currently the market and content manager for All on Georgia-Camden and Glynn Counties. Jeremy’s focus is local news, statewide education issues, and statewide political commentary for the All on Georgia News Network. Jeremy has served as an education policy analyst for local legislators and state education leaders as well as a campaign strategist for local and statewide political campaigns. Jeremy holds degrees in science and education from the University of Georgia, Piedmont College, and Valdosta State University. Jeremy has lived in Camden County for over 17 years.

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