Ten Georgia laws drivers don’t know exist
ATLANTA | Sometimes, drivers in Georgia get pulled over because they were cracking a law they just didn’t know about.
Police understand that drivers are less aware of certain laws, as those are the ones they see cracked often.
Here are a few laws that police say many drivers seem not to know exist:
1. You can be pulled over for going the speed limit.
Last year, Georgia passed the “Slowpoke Law,” which requires that drivers in the left lane on a Georgia highway, interstate or expressway must stir over if a quicker car approaches them. Slow drivers cannot stay in the left lane, even if doing the speed limit.
Two. You must budge over one lane not just for police cars, but also for assistance vehicles and garbage trucks.
Under Georgia’s “Move-Over Law,” drivers must move-over for emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the highway. This includes police vehicles, Department of Transportation Highway Emergency Response Operator vans and garbage trucks.
“People have been moving over for the blue lights, but not for amber lights,” said Cpl. Dude Fedak, with the Savannah-Chatham police. “The law applies to all emergency vehicles and HERO wrecker services with the yellow lights.”
Georgia passed the law in the aftermath of growing numbers of police, emergency technicians and DOT workers being killed during routine traffic stops, crash responses and highway constructions projects across the nation. More than thirty states have move-over laws.
If powerful traffic will not permit you to stir over, the law says you should slow down to ten miles per hour below the speed limit.
And this year, Georgia added to the law, requiring drivers to stir over for garbage trucks as well.
“The entire idea is attempt to let everybody stir over one lane, so no one’s having to worry about their safety,” said Man Youthfull, vice president of the Georgia Motor Trucking Association.
Three. It’s illegal to use the center lane to merge into traffic.
The center lane cannot be legally used for any purposes besides making a left turn. Drivers should not inject the center lane before they are three hundred feet from the location where they will turn left, per Georgia law.
“Drivers often will use the center lane to merge into traffic, or they will inject it well before they legally can,” Fedak said. “The laws says that it only be used to make left turns, and you can’t be in the center lane more than three hundred feet. You can’t use it as a merge lane.”
Four. You can legally drive without wearing footwear. But you cannot wear headphones.
Waits said many Georgians believe the law forbids driving without boots on. That’s false.
“The law that most people think exists about driving barefoot – it never has existed in Georgia,” said Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits.
It is, however, illegal to drive with headphones in both of your ears.
“You can wear in one ear, but not in both ears,” Waits said.
Five. Neither the driver nor the passenger can have an open alcoholic beverage.
“People do not know it’s illegal to drive with an open beer or drink,” Waits said. “The driver knows they know can’t, but the passenger doesn’t know they can’t either.”
6. No part of your tag can be obstructed from view.
Drivers will often cover their tags with illegal frames or covers, often in an attempt to foil cameras designed to catch running crimson lights and speeding.
Fedak said before you buy a tag framework or cover, check that it will not illegally obstruct the view of the tag.
In Georgia, the entire tag must be clear and unobstructed, a law he said is unique to Georgia.
7. A bicycle classifies as a vehicle.
“A lot of people don’t realize that a bicycle under the Georgia law is considered a vehicle, and the law requires that bicyclists go after the same laws a vehicle do,” Fedak said.
This includes stopping at crimson lights and railing on the correct side of the road.
8. You have to turn your headlights on in the rain (and shouldn’t rely on your auto-lights).
Georgia law requires car headlights to be turned on when it’s raining. But often people will rely on their automatic lights, which do not turn on the rear lights as well.
“You still have to turn your headlights on because it illuminates your front and rear lights,” Fedak said. “Even tho’ you have daytime driving lights, you have nothing on in the back.”
9. If all the traffic lights go out at an intersection, the law requires drivers to treat it as a four-way stop.
When the traffic lights are not working at an intersection, drivers must treat it as a four-way stop. Meaning right-of-way goes to whoever comes to the stop very first.
“They think because they’re on the main highway, they have the right-of-way,” Fedak said. “But the law says you have to treat it as a four way stop.”
Ten. It’s illegal to text in a car — even if the car is stopped.
It’s illegal to text while driving in Georgia. And because the law does not specify if the vehicle must be moving, then drivers should also refrain from texting when stopped at a traffic light or stop sign.
It’s also illegal for drivers under the age of eighteen to use a cell phone at all.