July 1 is upon us and, come midnight, everybody driving a car in Georgia needs to put that phone down or risk getting a ticket. However, not all jurisdictions in Georgia, and even in Walton County, are handling the issue the same way.
The County and the City of Monroe have been running an education campaign in the lead up to the implementation date so violators can expect a ticket right away. In a video put out by Monroe, the warning is clear – hands off that phone or expect a ticket. There is no warning period. Loganville, on the other hand, is taking a softer approach.
“The Loganville Police Department decided to take an educational approach to the new law – which means if an officer sees someone violating the law, they will still pull the driver over but instead of issuing a ticket they will educate the driver of the dangers of not being hands free and what the intent of the law is,” said Robbie Schwartz, spokesman for the City of Loganville. “That is not to say that a ticket will not be issued in certain circumstances, but it is an opportunity to take a different approach and maybe provide an opportunity to put law enforcement in a positive light.”
City of Social Circle Police Chief Tyrone Oliver said he is giving his officers the opportunity to use their own discretion.
“I leave that up the individual officer to use their judgement. However, the law was publicized thoroughly these past few months so everyone should be clear on the do’s and don’ts come July 1,” Oliver said. Georgia State Patrol is taking a similar approach.
“It totally depends on the stop as with any violation,” said GSP Trooper First Class Cal Barton. “I think if the violator is receptive to being educated and realizes that distracted driving is a problem, then a warning could be issued. However, on the other hand, if they are not receptive then hopefully a ticket will help them understand the dangers and deter their habitual behavior.”
Since those jurisdictional boundaries are not always clear, it is probably better not to take a chance. It is better to put that phone down and possibly save a life. It could be yours.
For more information on the law: