Georgia Senate rejects bill that would let drivers touch their phones at stoplights

The Georgia Senate on Wednesday rejected a bill that would let motorists touch their phones at stoplights and stop signs. (AJC file photo)

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The Georgia Senate on Wednesday rejected a bill that would let motorists touch their phones at stoplights and stop signs. (AJC file photo)

The Georgia Senate rejected a bill Wednesday that would allow motorists to touch their cellphones at stoplights and stop signs.

Senate Bill 203 would allow motorists to touch their phones if they are at a “full and complete stop” at a traffic control device or on the shoulder of the road. The phone would have to be mounted on the windshield or dashboard — not in the motorist’s hand or lap.

Sen. Frank Ginn, R-Danielsville, the bill’s sponsor, said Georgia’s current distracted driving law — approved in 2018 — has made “criminals out of law-abiding citizens.” He said allowing drivers to touch their phones when the vehicle is stopped would not be dangerous and would allow police to focus on more dangerous behavior.

“I’d much rather our law enforcement community focus on those folks who are moving (in their car) with their phones,” Ginn said during a Senate debate Wednesday.

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Safety advocates, police chiefs, insurers and others who opposed the bill say a phone is still a distraction when a vehicle is stopped, and the bill would make Georgia roads more dangerous.

“This is terrible legislation. This is unnecessary legislation. This is dangerous legislation,” said Sen. Randy Robertson, R-Cataula.

The Senate rejected SB 203 by a vote of 35-14.