The Georgia Senate has joined the debate over whether to change the fines for distracted driving.
The Hands-Free Georgia Act prohibits motorists from handling their phones while driving. A first offense costs up to $50, a second offense up to $100 and a third offense up to $150. Under Senate Bill 479, the fines would range from $25 to $100 for each offense, at a judge’s discretion.
The proposed fine structure is identical to that proposed in House Bill 113, which is pending in that chamber’s Rules Committee. Like the House bill, SB 479 would eliminate the so-called “get out of jail free card” provision of the distracted driving law. Under that provision, first offenders can bring a receipt for a hands-free device to court, and the judge must dismiss the citation.
Unlike the House bill, SB 479 would not prohibit teenagers from handling any electronic devices while driving.
SB 479 passed the Senate Public Safety Committee on Wednesday. Sen. P.K. Martin, R-Lawrenceville, who sponsored the bill, said it would “creates another avenue for passage” of changes to the two-year-old distracted driving law.
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