October 16, 2019
Texting While Driving
Most Georgia drivers are now aware of the law that took effect in 2018 making it illegal to text or operate a cellphone or similar device while driving. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-241 makes it illegal to even “physically hold or support, with any part of the body” a wireless communications device. It should go without saying that using the phone to text or use a navigation app is also prohibited.
What you may not know is that law enforcement officers and some select others are excluded from this law. When cops, firefighters, or emergency medical services technicians are driving, they are permitted to use their phones or other devices without fear of violating the law, provided it takes place “during the performance of his or her official duties.” In the months and years to come, there will almost certainly be scores of cases and legal decisions that narrow down just what this last phrase means. Was the officer talking to another officer in an emergency situation, or was he or she asking his or her boyfriend or girlfriend what restaurant they should go to on Friday night?
What we know for certain is that driving distracted, especially while texting or looking at a cellphone, is one of the most dangerous activities any driver can engage in. In fact, we might all prefer to be on the road with drunken drivers who are paying attention than sober drivers who can’t be bothered to be concerned for other drivers and pedestrians who might cross their path while they check the score of a game, look up a recipe, or post on social media as they cruise across Georgia roads and highways.
Take a look at this video (*STRONG LANGUAGE WARNING): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoSOEtzWPlU
Vigilance while driving is vital to safety on our roadways. Any parent of a teen driver will tell you that it is not just your driving you need to worry about, but everyone else on the roads. If you are injured in a DeKalb County car accident, or a car accident in any county in the State of Georgia, it is important that you contact a knowledgeable attorney who will consider how the collision took place. It may not always be as obvious, or as documented as the video posted above. The fact that the at-fault driver in the video was a law enforcement officer only demonstrates that, even though they are exempt under many circumstances from the laws against texting and driving, they are not exempt from the dangers that law is designed to prevent.
If you have been in a car accident and have questions about liability or how to recover damages for your injuries, call Dan DeWoskin and Alex Merritt for a free consultation.