Highway and Traffic Laws
The Sheriff’s Office is in charge of directing and monitoring traffic in the county. Deputies have the power to stop vehicles and issue citations for drivers who violate traffic laws. In the event of an accident, they visit the scene and collect the necessary evidence for an investigation. They question those involved in the accident as well as witnesses. Deputies also offers first aid to those injured in accidents until emergency medical responders arrive.
In addition to DUI enforcement, the sheriff's office enforces a number of other state traffic laws including the following:
Hands Free Law
Drivers cannot have a phone in their hand or touching any part of their body while talking on their phone while driving. Even with hands-free technology, drivers cannot write, read or send text messages, e-mails, social media content and other internet data while on the road. (Voice to text is allowed)
Drivers cannot watch videos when they are on the road (navigational/GPS videos are allowed). Drivers cannot use their phones or electronic devices to record video when they are on the road (continuously running dash cams are allowed).
Drivers may listen to streaming music that does not include videos on the screen of their phone or device while driving but cannot touch their phones while on the road to activate or program any music streaming app. Streaming music that is controlled by and listened through the vehicle's radio is allowed. Drivers who need to touch their phones to activate/program their music streaming apps must do so before getting on the road
The fine for a first conviction is $50 and one point assesed against the driver's license. The fine is $100 and two points for a second conviction and $150 and three points for three or more conviction. The fines for a second or third offense only apply when date of a second or third conviction takes place within 24 months of the date of the first conviction. First time offenders can have the charge dropped by showing the court they have obtained a device that allows them to talk on a phone with hands-free technology or devices
Seat Belt Law
All drivers and front seat passengers are required by law to wear a seat belt. Georgia ranks among the best in the nation with compliance in this area, with 92 percent of drivers and front seat passengers using their seat belts. Failure to comply with this law could result in a ticket and a fine of $15.
Georgia law also states that in addition to the driver and front seat passengers, all passengers between the ages of 8 and 17 must wear a seat belt, regardless of their position in the vehicle. Failure to comply with this law could result in a ticket and a $25 fine for the driver of the vehicle.
Infants and children under the age of 8 must be secured in a car seat “appropriate for such child’s height and weight and approved by the United States Department of Transportation.” Infants and children should be seated in the rear of a vehicle unless that is not possible, and the seat must be secured to the vehicle according to the manufacturer’s directions. Additionally, a child may be secured with only the vehicle’s safety belt if the child weighs at least 40 pounds and has a height of 4 feet, 9 inches or more. Failure to comply with this law could result in a ticket and a fine for the driver of the vehicle of $50. Subsequent violations would receive larger fines and potentially points on the driver’s license. Learn more about child restraint laws in Georgia.
The law also prohibits any person under the age of 18 from riding in the open bed of a pickup truck. A driver who allows this practice could be found guilty of a misdemeanor.
These rules to not apply to motorcycles, off-road vehicles being used by those over age 18, or any vehicle used for agricultural purposes and typical to a farmer’s daily operations.
These laws now apply to pickup trucks, which were exempt from seat belt laws for many years.
Move Over Law
Georgia’s Move Over Law says motorists travelling in the lane adjacent to the shoulder must move-over one lane when emergency and utility vehicles are stopped on the side of the highway and operating in an official capacity. Vehicles included in the law include all first responders (law enforcement, fire, EMS), utility vehicles, DOT vehicles, HERO Units and wreckers tending to an accident. The law is meant to keep officers AND traffic violators safe from crashes with passing cars.
The Move Over Law was passed in the aftermath of growing numbers of police, emergency technicians and DOT workers being killed during routine traffic stops, crash responses and highway construction projects around the nation. Right now, more than thirty states have Move Over Laws on the books, with fines that range as high as a thousand dollars or more in some jurisdictions. The Move Over fine in Georgia can be up to $500.
Failure to obey the Move Over Law can lead to consequences far more serious than fines. According to FBI statistics, traffic crashes claim the lives of more police personnel than any other cause of death in the line of duty, including shootings. Reports show emergency vehicles of all types have been struck while parked beside Georgia highways, even while their emergency lights were flashing.
Open Container Law
The law defines "open alcoholic beverage container" as any bottle, can, or other receptacle that contains any amount of alcoholic beverage and: (1) is open or has a broken seal; or (2) the contents of which are partially removed.
The law prohibits anyone from consuming any alcoholic beverage, or possessing any open alcoholic beverage container in the passenger area of any motor vehicle which is on the roadway or shoulder of any public highway. Only a person who consumes an alcoholic beverage or possesses an open alcoholic beverage container will be charged with an open container violation; however, a driver who is alone in a motor vehicle shall be deemed to be in possession of any open alcoholic beverage container. Anyone who violates this law is subject to a fine not to exceed $200.
This provision does not apply to any passenger in the passenger area of a motor vehicle designed, maintained, or used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation or in the living quarters of a motor home or house trailer.
Aggressive Driving Law
A person commits the offense of aggressive driving when he/she operates any motor vehicle with the intent to annoy, harass, molest, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another person. Any person convicted of aggressive driving will be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature and a six point assessment toward the suspension of their drivers license.
Super Speeder Law
The Georgia Super Speeder Law adds an additional $200 state fee to any driver convicted of traveling over 75 mph on a two-lane road, or traveling over 85 mph anywhere in the state. Failure to pay the fee will result in a license suspension and an additional $50 fee. These fees are tacked on to fines imposed by local jurisdictions for speeding violations.
Not only is the law intended to lower the number of speeders and speed-related accidents, but fees collected under the law go to Georgia’s trauma care hospital system, where more than half of the patients are typically victims of motor vehicle accidents.