Gwinnett Police issue warning to drivers after governor signs distracted driving law

In the light of Gov. Nathan Deal yesterday signing House Bill 678 with restrictions on the use of electronic devices while driving, the Gwinnett County Police Department put out a press release advising drivers to be aware of the new restrictions, which go into effect July 1, 2018. Drivers need to be aware that police in Gwinnett County will be watching, and, after a 90 grace period, violators will be prosecuted.

The new restrictions are designed to counter distracted driving accidents.

“The Gwinnett County Police Department and Gwinnett County Solicitor’s Office will begin enforcing and prosecuting violations of this new law after a grace period of 90 days in an effort to reduce the risk distracted driving poses to Gwinnett County residents’ lives and property,” GCPD wrote in the press release. “Drivers should be aware that under the new law they will no longer be permitted to physically hold a phone, GPS navigation device, media player, tablet, computer or other electronic device while operating any vehicle. The law also prohibits reading or writing text messages; recording or playing videos, with the exception of hands-free devices such as dash cameras that record continuously; and sending or receiving internet data.”

Drivers can still talk on the phone, albeit through voice-to-text technology if done through an earpiece, headset, smart watch, or other hands-free device. Phones and other devices can used for navigation, “so long as they are mounted and used in a hands-free manner.”

“Those who violate this law will be cited and will face a fine of $50 and 1 point on their driver’s history for a first offense; a fine of $100 and 2 points for a second offense, and a $150 fine and 3 points for a third offense. The law allows a one-time “pass” on a driver’s first offense if the driver appears in court with proof of having purchased a hands-free device,” GCPD wrote.

Loganville attorney Lori Duff wrote about this law and laid out what can and can’t be done in a recent “Legalese” column.

GCPD report that in 2017, 1,088 collisions listed distracted driving as a contributing factor to the wreck and 2,254 citations were issued under the distracted driving law that preceded this update.

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