After the statewide anti-texting and driving law took effect July 1, many law enforcement agencies — including the Hinesville Police Department — gave
motorists a one-month grace period to get used to the new rule. Most Georgia drivers caught texting were
issued warnings instead of citations.
On Saturday, that window closed with the HPD having issued no warn-
Though an exact number was not available, a few warnings were issued throughout the state during the grace period, said Allison Hodge of the Georgia Department of Public Safety’s public information office.
Drivers will now be fined $150 if they’re caught texting while driving. Under the same law, drivers younger than 18 also will be fined $150 for using cell phones in any capacity while operating a vehicle, according to the law.
HPD Traffic Investigator Lt. Max McClendon said no drivers have been caught texting so far.
“It’s a tough law to enforce because the texting has to be seen,” he said. “Most people who are texting are keeping their phones low, and officers won’t see it.”
Georgia State Patrol Sgt. Bruce DeLoach agreed, saying a texting allegation would be tough to prove because a court order must be issued to seize a cell phone.
But if there is suspicion that texting while driving contributed to an accident, the trooper said, a law enforcement agency can subpoena a driver’s phone records.
“As of right now, no wrecks [during the grace period] were believed to be caused by texting,” McClendon said.
According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, no states currently completely ban cell phone use. Eight states allow cell phones to be used only in conjunction with hands-free devices. Thirty states ban texting for all drivers, and 28 states ban all cell phone use for novice drivers.
A law requiring pickup drivers to wear seat belts at all times also was signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue in June. Again, law enforcement agencies gave motorists a one-month grace period. During that time, the HPD issued several warnings to pickup drivers, McClendon said.