Governor Nathan Deal signs distracted driving bill into law

(WTVM) - The distracted driving law to prevent motorists from holding their cell phones behind the wheel and at red lights will go into effect July 1.

Law enforcement is cracking down on distracted drivers, but there are other options like using hands-free devices including speaker phones, Bluetooth, and wireless earbuds.

More than a dozen other states have passed similar laws in hopes to cut down on the number of traffic deaths.

"This will save not only lives but it's also property damage and lives because we work with accidents every day. People say I was checking my phone or I was checking my email and I didn't realize the vehicle had stopped," said Sgt. Fred Carnes with the Columbus Police Motor Squad.

The law states a driver may not write, send,  or read any text-based communication or watch videos.

The Georgia State Patrol and the Highway Safety office will give drivers a 90-day grace period where warnings will be issued.

"The simplicity of this law is if you have the phone in your hand, you're violating the law whether or not you're manipulating that would be an officer's discretion.  At the same time, the law is pretty cut and dry," said Carnes.

The only exceptions for having the phone in hand is if you are reporting an accident, medical emergency, fire, crime, or hazardous road conditions

You can use your phone for GPS, but it must be sitting on the dashboard or seat.

If you are caught with your phone, the first offense will be a $50 fine and any other fines after that will be $100 fines plus a two-point penalty assessment on your driver's license.

Copyright 2018 WTVM. All rights reserved.