Lawrenceville – Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 673 into law Wednesday. Effective July 1, 2018, Gwinnett County drivers will face new restrictions on the use of electronic devices while driving and new penalties designed to counter the ongoing threat of distracted driving.
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 devices 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 will still be allowed to talk on the phone or use voice-to-text technology if done through an earpiece, headset, smart watch, or other hands-free devices. Phones and other devices may also be 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.
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.
In 2017 Gwinnett Police identified 1,088 collisions that listed distracted driving as a contributing factor and issued 2,254 citations under the previous distracted driving law.