Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon broke the Council’s tie vote on Jan. 2, making the city the first in Georgia to prohibit handheld mobile phones and portable electronic devices while driving. Courtesy of Smyrna

Smyrna is first Georgia city with hands-free driving law

Breaking a tie vote, Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon voted Jan. 2 in favor of the city’s proposed Hands-Free Ordinance.

Calling it “a step in the right direction,” Bacon said he does not think the issue will be resolved by the state due to the monetary influence of lobbyists with the candidates.

Bacon’s vote was needed since Councilman Ron Fennel recused himself, saying he is an advocate for these kinds of issues as chairman of the TEAM Georgia nonprofit, “a safe and sober driving and boating coalition.”

Councilman Derek Norton proposed the change - an initiative also being promoted statewide by the Medical Association of Georgia of which Norton is the director of Government Relations.

Joining Norton in support were Councilmen Doug Stoner and Charles Welch.

Opposed were Councilwomen Maryline Blackburn, Andrea Blustein and Susan Wilkinson.

While Blackburn and Wilkinson did not offer opinions for their opposition, Blustein said, “It’s a very important issue, but one community can’t solve it. We need to put pressure on the state to do their job.”

A former state senator and a former state representative, Stoner said, “Generally, the state needs a push to do its job. This is an opportunity for us to take the lead, and it’s done in other states.”

Norton said notable points about this ordinance are:

  • the law will go into effect April 2 after the Georgia General Assembly concludes to see if the lawmakers make any changes.
  • no points will count against insurance policies for violations.
  • a $150 maximum fine.
  • maybe traffic court for $75.
  • one-touch rule allowed to turn on the hands-free device.
  • a two-year limit when the law will be reevaluated.

Summary: with links to view issue sheet and documentation.

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