While a driver who causes an accident while text messaging is already liable for a crime under Georgia law, now the actions leading to the accident — texting while driving — are also a crime.
On July 1, Georgia joined about two dozen other states in criminalizing reading, writing or sending text messages, checking email, and using the Internet while driving; commonly these acts are known as distracted driving. Known as Caleb's Law, adult drivers are now faced with a $150 ticket and one point on their driver's license if caught driving while distracted.
The new distracted driving law has even stricter restrictions for teen drivers. Teens under the age of 18 will face penalties for even talking on a cellphone while driving.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 6,000 people died as a result of crashes involving distracted driving in 2008. And the National Safety Council estimates that distracted drivers cause 30 percent of accidents.
Concerns Over the Law?
However, the adult texting law is not without concerns.
Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue signed the law only after lawmakers agreed to fix issues with the legislation. Governor Perdue worries that prosecutors will be pressured to charge more drivers with vehicular homicide and that police officers will be burdened to enforce the law.
Specifically, there are concerns that it will be difficult for police officers to distinguish between the illegal act of writing/reading/sending text messages and the act of making phone calls, which is still legal for adults. Additionally, there are questions to what extent police officers can review your cellphone communications before it becomes a violation of privacy.
If you have been seriously injured by the negligence of a driver who was text messaging while driving, contact an experienced attorney.