Using radio internet apps is legal under new law as long as you set them up before driving

Published 8:56 pm Monday, June 4, 2018

A Troup County Sheriff’s Office post about the new hands-free driving law has nearly 4,000 shares and caused some unintended confusion about how it affects internet-radio apps.

The post listed what would be illegal under the new law, but the wording made many commenters feel like they could not listen to Pandora, Spotify and similar apps while driving. On Monday, the sheriff’s office clarified the law in a follow-up post, stating that it would be illegal to switch songs or change stations — anything that involves holding a phone — while driving, but that it’s legal to set up a station before driving.

“As long as they are not going down the road, holding their phone,” said Lt. Jeff Duran with the Troup County Sheriff’s Office. “As long as it’s hands free.”

The law goes into effect July 1. Here are the details of the law:

Driving with a phone in hand or using any part of their body to support their phone. Drivers can only use their phones to make or receive calls by speakerphone, earpiece, wireless headphones, phone connected to vehicle or electronic watch. GPS navigation systems are also allowed.

Headsets and ear pieces can only be worn for communication purposes and not for listening to music or other communication.

Drivers cannot send or read text message unless they are using voice-based communication that converts the message to a written text.

Drivers cannot send or read emails, view social media or any other form of internet content.

Drivers cannot watch a video unless it is for navigation.

Drivers cannot record a video, but continuously running dash cams are exempt.

The exceptions to the law are reporting a traffic crash, medical emergency, criminal activity or hazardous road conditions; utility service providers responding to a utility emergency; first responders performing their official duties; and when a lawfully parked vehicle. 

Lawfully parked does not include at traffic signals or stop signs. Using a phone at a traffic signal or stop sign is illegal.

The fine for a first conviction is $50 and one point toward a driver’s license record, for a second conviction is $100 and two points toward a driver’s license record and for a third conviction is $150 and three points toward a driver’s license record.