New bill will double fines if you’re caught using a cellphone while driving

Right now, the penalties for being caught are $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second and $150 for the third. You also get points on your license.

ATLANTA — Georgia lawmakers are taking a closer look at how to crack down on people who violate the state’s hands-free law.

The lawmaker behind the original bill wants to double the fines for hands-free violations.

He told Channel 2 political reporter Richard Elliot that the new fines with be a deterrent. Other say they’re not so sure.

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Rose Louis was at the Capitol Monday helping lead a school field trip. She told Elliot that she always sees people on their phone driving through school zones.

“I see them all the time taking them to school and speeding through things because they can’t pay attention to the road,” Louis said.

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State Rep. John Carson, R-Marietta, appeared in a committee hearing Monday where he tried to convince other lawmakers to raise the existing fines for people violating Georgia’s hands-free law.

Right now, the penalties for being caught are $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second and $150 for the third. You also get points on your license.

Carson wants to see those dollar amounts double to $100, $200 and $300. He also wants higher fines for people violating the law in school and construction zones.

“What we want to get people understanding is how dangerous it is and put it front and center to say, ‘Put your phone down. Heads up. Look up at the road,’” Carson said.

During the hearing, critics raised concerns that raising the fine too much might hurt people who can't afford them.

But Carson said he doesn't want to raise the fines that high.

“You get it from both sides. You can’t make everyone happy with this. I’ve heard that a $50 fine is too much. I don’t see how that’s too much when you’re talking about an $800 smart phone,” Carson said.

There was no committee vote on Monday. They’ll meet again later this week to decide on the proposal.