Traffic Laws You Need to Know When Driving in Georgia

Traffic Laws You Need to Know When Driving in Morgan County, Georgia-min

Drivers in Georgia face some of the strictest traffic laws in the country, and these laws are updated more regularly than most people think.

It’s important to stay on the right side of the driving laws here as failure to do so can result in much more than a few points on the license and a fine.

Some traffic violations can lead to a misdemeanor criminal charge. If convicted, the lifelong criminal record you get may have serious implications for your future. So, simply accepting a ticket and paying a fine to “get rid of it” may not be your best option.

The following are a few key traffic laws to keep in mind before setting off in your vehicle anywhere in Georgia.

You need car insurance in Georgia

Under Georgia’s driving laws, all drivers must have a minimum amount of car insurance as follows:

  • At least $25,000 worth of bodily liability insurance per person
  • At least $50,000 of bodily liability insurance per accident, and
  • At least $25,000 of property damage insurance

It’s important to note that these insurance minimums do not cover damage to your own vehicle, your passengers or, in some cases, the full cost of damage incurred by the other driver if you’re liable in an accident.

If you’re sued for damages for an amount greater than your insurance policy allows, you might end up paying extras from your own pocket.

Drivers in Georgia should, therefore, consider a more comprehensive auto insurance package that covers more than the minimum requirements.

Don’t drive too slowly

Everyone knows about obeying the speed limits in Georgia, but did you know that driving too slowly can also be a traffic offense?

Unless you’re in the correct lane on a road with at least two lanes in each direction, you can be pulled over and issued a traffic ticket under Georgia’s so-called “Slowpoke Law”.

Highway signs often say, “Slower traffic, move right” and this is more than a polite request. If you’re driving in the left-hand lane of the highway and a faster car approaches, you must give way — even if you’re driving at the speed limit.

Slow down and move over if you see flashing lights approaching

If an emergency vehicle approaches, such as police, ambulance or first responders — or even a tow truck or garbage/sanitation truck — you must slow down and move over.

Under the “Move-Over Law”, if you see a flashing blue, orange, or yellow light in your rear-view mirror, either move over or slow down to at least 10 mph below the speed limit: that’s the law. Failure to obey it could result in a traffic ticket.

No hands-free driving in Georgia

This should not surprise anyone but it’s amazing how often drivers take their hands off the wheel inadvertently — increasingly to operate a smartphone or other hand-held device.

To reduce instances of distracted driving from texting, Georgia passed a law in 2018 that makes it illegal even to hold an electronic device while operating a car. Law enforcement no longer needs to prove that you were texting to issue a ticket.

Drivers in Georgia can still use hands-free technology to speak on the phone, send voice-activated texts or use GPS. You can also use your phone to report an accident, medical emergency, fire, crime, or hazardous road condition.

If your car is in PARK in a suitable place (i.e., not at a STOP sign or light), you are free to use your phone as normal in your car without getting a traffic ticket.

Headlights must be on in the rain

Georgia gets its fair share of downpours and is one of the rainiest states in the country. Accordingly, the state has made a law that mandates the use of headlights in rainy conditions, even in the daytime.

Headlight usage increases the ability to see other cars and for other cars to see you. Fortunately, many modern cars have sensors that automatically turn headlights on in dim or dark conditions, but this is not a legal requirement. If you have an older car, be especially aware of this law as it’s easy to get caught out.

Broken traffic lights mean a four-way stop

If there is a light out at an intersection, vehicles approaching from any direction must treat it as a stop sign:

  • Whichever vehicle approaches the intersection first has the right of way.
  • If two or more vehicles approach, the driver to the left of the vehicle on the main road goes first and then the next driver in a clockwise direction around the intersection.

Joshua’s Law

Joshua’s Law was named after a teenager who died in Georgia as a result of a car accident and whose parents worked with the state to pass legislation to increase teenage driver safety.

The law sets out the requirements to obtain a license in Georgia, including driving education for teens through a graduated license program. Aspiring drivers must pass both written and field exams, starting from the age of 15 with a learner’s/instructional permit.

No seat belt will lead to a ticket

The failure to wear a seatbelt in a moving car in Georgia can also land you with a traffic ticket and a hefty fine. The following people must, by law, wear seatbelts in vehicles here:

  • All persons riding in the front seat
  • Children under eight years of age (recommended to ride in a child safety or booster seat for their age)
  • Children aged 8-15 (front or back seat)

No open containers

This one catches plenty of younger drivers in Georgia out. Even if you plan on not drinking alcohol and acting as the driver for the evening, you can be charged with a traffic offense if you’re pulled over and an open container of alcohol is found in your vehicle, regardless of whether anyone was drinking it.

“Containers” include any unsealed vessel containing alcohol, including resealable containers, cups, or bottles.

While you can’t be charged with a DUI if you haven’t consumed alcohol or an illicit substance, law enforcement may request that you perform a field sobriety test or blow into a breathalyzer — and the traffic ticket could end up ruining your evening out.

No one under 18 can ride in the open bed of a pick-up truck on the interstate

This one is age-specific and prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from riding in the open bed of a pick-up because of the lack of protection it provides in an accident.

If you’re 17 or younger and the bed is covered, it’s acceptable. Anyone over the age of 18 can ride in an open bed on an interstate and if you’re under 18 but not on the interstate, it’s also acceptable.

Have you received a ticket for a traffic violation in Georgia?

Your best option may be to talk to a criminal defense lawyer from Michael Fulcher Law, LLC, who will outline your legal options and help reduce the impact on your future. Contact us for a free consultation.