Hall County authorities recently detained and arrested Steven Lawless after pulling him over for allegedly violating the recently enacted Hands Free Georgia Law. The traffic violation led to charges concerning both drug and weapon violations.
A search of his vehicle revealed 45.5 grams of methamphetamine, a handgun, and 98 grams of synthetic marijuana.
Lawless is facing the traffic violation as well as:
- Trafficking Methamphetamine in Georgia
- Possession of Marijuana in Georgia with Intent to Distribute in Georgia (Felony)
- Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Crime in Georgia
As a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, it's important for me to note just how the new texting while driving law can truly effect drivers. If you have a phone in your hand while driving your vehicle, the police have reasonable articulable suspicion to pull you over and investigate.
In today's post I will outline the new distracted driving law.
Texting While Driving in Georgia
The Hands Free Georgia Law went into effect on July 1, 2018. The law is otherwise known as either texting while driving or distracted driving and is outlined in the Georgia Code as:
While operating a vehicle on any Georgia road that no one will be permitted to:
- Physically hold or support, with any part of his or her body, a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device
- Reach for a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device in such a manner that requires the driver to no longer be in a seated driving position or properly restrained by a safety belt
- Write, send, or read any text based communication, including but not limited to a text message, instant message, e-mail, or Internet data on a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device
- Watch a video or movie on a wireless telecommunications device or stand alone electronic device other than watching data related to the navigation of such vehicle
- Record a video on a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device. O.C.G.A. §40-6-241.
Violating any part of the Hands Free Georgia Law will be considered a misdemeanor. Each provision is charged individually, and the penalty includes a minimum fee of $300.
Lawless is now facing some serious felony charges as well as the misdemeanor traffic violation in Georgia. The reality is that now police officers have even more reason for pulling drivers over in our state. As long as the reason for pulling you over is legitimate, the reason for the actual traffic stop becomes irrelevant once a search of your vehicle begins. You will be subject to arrest and prosecution just like any other driver.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in Georgia, contact our offices today.