Moultrie Observer

Local News

June 30, 2010

New ‘text’ law in effect

Law enforcement: No grace period will be given

MOULTRIE —   Drivers beware. If you text while driving on July 1 and thereafter, you could be arrested under a new Georgia law.

Local law enforcement feels this rule will really be helpful to them.

Moultrie Police Chief Frank Lang said the law prohibits a driver from texting while a vehicle is in motion — or while it is stopped at a red light or at a stop sign.

Lang said the Moultrie Police Department is excited about having the new law in place because it will give law enforcement more teeth against distracted drivers. Sending a text message while driving can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated, if not worse.

“When a driver is under the influence,” Lang said, “it is a chemical imbalance. When a driver is texting, it shows a total disregard for safety.”

The new law will allow officers to subpoena a driver’s phone records to see what activity was going on at the time of an accident, Lang said. Currently, it is difficult to tell how many accidents in Moultrie are caused by people texting, but officers will now be able to investigate and determine if a driver’s texting contributed to an accident.

What makes the law unique is that phone records give a variety of information to officers, Lang said. It can tell how long a driver was on the phone and when, including if it was when an accident or traffic stop took place. Text messages sent or received show up also, whether they have been deleted from a cell phone or not.

“It tells on them every time,” Lang said. “Just because (a message) was deleted does not mean it was deleted from the memory.”

Lang said the law will allow officers to check phone records to see if a driver was texting when they are pulled over. If a driver tells the officer they were not and records show they were, the driver could be charged with both texting while driving and giving false information to an officer.

“It creates additional problems by being dishonest,” Lang said. “One thing always leads to something else.”

Lang said he was very excited to see the law put into place, and that it was long overdue. He warns drivers that there will be no grace period given by officers once the law goes into effect, and he warns drivers to pay attention to the road instead of sending a text message.

“When you text while driving,” Lang said, “you put your own life in danger as well as others.”

In addition to the texting law, a law banning cell phone use of any kind for teenage drivers will also go into effect on July 1. Violators of either law will face a $150 fine and have one point put on their license.

With the laws, Georgia joins several Southeast states with laws in place prohibiting certain cell phone use while driving. Currently, Florida and South Carolina are the only two Southeast states with no cell phone limits of any kind.

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