Texting While Driving: It’s Asking For TroubleWritten on December 9, 2014
By now most people know that texting while operating a motor vehicle is illegal. Not only could you get a ticket, but using a cell phone while behind the wheel is dangerous. When your eyes and mind are off the road and focused on something else, the likelihood of being involved in an accident dramatically increases.
There are some misconceptions about driving while texting in Georgia. The first is that it’s not just limited to texting. The code section reads “writing, sending or reading” text based communications while operating a motor vehicle. That includes texting, reading emails, scrolling through your appointments or fiddling with a playlist. Often times, people get pulled over for using their phone and think the “I wasn’t texting” defense is going to get them off the hook. Most times, however, it won’t. If a police officer sees you using your phone for something other than talking, chances are you are going to get a ticket that is in excess of $100.
Another misconception is that the police can’t pull you over just for texting. In other words, there has to be some other underlying infraction like an expired tag or failing to use a turn signal. That isn’t the case. If an officer sees you typing away with your thumbs while behind the wheel, he or she can pull you over without having any other reason for the stop.
The code section also differentiates between “driving” and “operating a motor vehicle.” If you are stopped at a stop sign, you are still operating the vehicle. If the engine is running, the car is in gear, and your foot is on the brake, you are indeed “operating” the car. Just because you are at a red light doesn’t mean you can whip out your phone and start firing off texts. The code does say that using your phone is permitted when “lawfully parked.”
A Georgia lawmaker is trying to take things one step further. A bill has been pre-filed that would require all persons to be “hands-free” while driving. That means even holding a phone up to your ear and talking would be against the law. This is the third time this sort of bill has been filed by state lawmakers so it remains to be seen if it will pass this time around.
If you have received a citation for texting while operating a motor vehicle, or any other driving offense, you aren’t automatically guilty. If you feel you were unfairly targeted, or weren’t even using your phone, you may have grounds to fight the case. It’s always a good idea to consult an attorney prior to going to court no matter if you are dealing with a citation or something more serious. The attorneys at The Silverbach Group are here to help. We are always available for consultation and assistance. You can reach us at (770) 635-0334.