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Georgia New Resident Guide

Welcome to Georgia! As a new driver to this state you will need to be aware of our unique traffic laws and regulations. Here's what you need to keep in mind while driving in Georgia. Some of these rules may be the same as what you're already used to, but others will be drastically different!

Licensing and Residency Requirements



  • Any person who is a resident of the state for 30 days shall obtain a Georgia driver's license before operating a motor vehicle in the state.
  • Applicants and licensees have 60 days to notify the DDS of a change of name or address.
  • Transfer your driver's license first. Then, with your temporary driver's license, you can visit your County Tax Commissioner's Office to register and title your car. You'll need to fill out an application for a title and license plate, present proof of insurance, and pay for your registration and title in cash, check or money order.


Graduated Licensing Program



Instructional Permit

Requirements

  • Must be at least 15 years of age;
  • Must pass vision exam;
  • Must pass written knowledge exam;
  • If under 18, you must provide a Certificate of Attendance, a High School Diploma, or a GED certificate.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • Can operate a Class C vehicle when accompanied by a person at least 21 years of age who is licensed to drive a class C vehicle, who is fit and capable of exercising control over the vehicle, and who is occupying a seat beside the driver.
  • Applicant under age 18 cannot apply for or keep a driver's license/permit if withdrawn from school or have a total of 10 unexcused absences or have any conduct infractions.

Provisional Driver's License

Requirements

  • Must be at least 16 years of age.
  • Must have held an Instructional Permit for a minimum of one year and a day.
  • No major traffic violations that resulted in the suspension of the Instructional Permit and prohibit issuance of a Class D.
  • A minimum of 40 hours of supervised driving experience with at least 6 hours of driving at night.
  • Must complete a driver education course if age 16. If the applicant has not completed a certified Georgia Driver Training/Driver Education course, they cannot obtain a Class D until age 17.
  • Must pass vision exam.
  • Must pass road skills test.

Privileges and Restrictions

  • May not drive between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 6:00 a.m., no exceptions.
  • During the first six months following issuance, only immediate family members can ride in the vehicle.
  • During the second six months, following issuance, only one passenger under 21 years of age and who is not a member of the driver's immediate family can ride in the vehicle.
  • After the first and second six month periods, only 3 passengers under 21 years of age and who are not members of the driver's immediate family can ride in the vehicle.
  • Applicants under the age of 18 cannot apply for or keep a driver's license/permit if withdrawn from school or have a total of ten unexcused absences or have any conduct infractions.

Full License

Requirements

  • Must be at least 18 years of age;
  • Must not have incurred any major traffic convictions during the previous 12 months;
  • The following violations must not occur during this period:
    • DUI
    • Eluding a police officer;
    • Drag racing;
    • Reckless driving;
    • Hit and run;
    • Any violation that assesses four or more points on the driver's license.


Violation Point Counts

The amount of points that go against your driver's license for specific types of violations.



6 Point Violations

  • Aggressive Driving;
  • Unlawful Passing School Bus;
  • Speeding 34 mph or more over speed limit.

4 Point Violations

  • Reckless Driving;
  • Improper Passing on Hill or Curve;
  • Speeding 24 to 33 mph over speed limit.

3 Point Violations

  • Speeding 19 to 23 mph over speed limit;
  • Failure to Obey Traffic-Control Device;
  • Failure to Obey Police Officer;
  • All Other Moving Violations.

2 Point Violations

  • Speeding 15 to 18 mph over speed limit;
  • Possessing an Open Container of an Alcoholic Beverage while Driving;
  • Failure to Adequately Secure Load (except fresh farm produce), resulting in an Accident;
  • 2nd or Subsequent Child Safety Restraint Offense.

1 Point Violations

  • 1st Child Safety Restraint Offense;
  • Violation of usage of wireless telecommunication device requirements;
  • Operating a Vehicle while Text Messaging;
  • Improper Use of Designated Travel Lane - 4th and Subsequent Offense.

How long points remain on license

Licensed Georgia residents may request that DDS reduce the number of points assessed against their Georgia driver's license up to 7 points once every 5 years. To qualify for a Points Reduction, you must successfully complete a certified Driver Improvement (defensive driving) course and present the original certificate of completion to the DDS by mail or in person at one of our Customer Service Centers.

A driver with 15 points in a 24 month period will be suspended.



Insurance Requirements



Georgia consumers must have automobile liability insurance for at least the minimum limits required by law to drive on the Georgia public roads and highways.

The minimum limits of liability required under Georgia law are:

  • Bodily injury Liability of $25,000 per person, $50,000 per occurrence and
  • Property Damage liability of $25,000 per occurrence.


Headlight Laws



You must dim your headlights from high to low beam when you are within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle or within 200 feet of a vehicle traveling ahead of you.

You must use your headlights:

  • 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise;
  • When visibility is less than 500 feet;
  • In conditions of insufficient light/adverse weather.

There is no specific law allowing or prohibiting headlight flashing.



Implied Consent Laws



Suspension for 1 year.



DUI Penalties



First Offense (Misdemeanor)

  • 10 days - 12 months imprisonment;
  • $300 - $1,000 fine;
  • 40 hours community service;
  • 12 month license suspension;
  • Must complete alcohol or drug risk-reduction program for license reinstatement.

Second Offense (within 10 years) (Misdemeanor)

  • 90 days - 12 months imprisonment;
  • $600 - $1,000 fine;
  • 30 days community service;
  • 3 year license suspension;
  • Must complete alcohol or drug risk-reduction program for license reinstatement;
  • Ignition interlock at least 8 months.

Third Offense (within 10 years) (high and aggravated misdemeanor)

  • 120 days - 12 months imprisonment;
  • $1,000 - $5,000 fine;
  • 30 days community service;
  • 5 year license suspension;
  • Must complete alcohol or drug risk-reduction program and a substance treatment program (if referred) for license reinstatement;
  • Ignition interlock at least 8 months.

Fourth or Subsequent Offense (within 10 years) (felony)

  • 1 - 5 years imprisonment;
  • $1,000 - $5,000 fine;
  • 60 days community service;
  • Must complete alcohol or drug risk-reduction program and a substance treatment program (if referred) for license reinstatement;
  • Ignition interlock at least 8 months.

Child Endangerment (transporting a child under 14 while under the influence)(separate offense)

First or Second Offense (misdemeanor)

  • Up to 12 months imprisonment;
  • Up to $1,000 fine.

Third or Subsequent Offense (felony)

  • 1 - 3 year imprisonment;
  • $1,000 - $5,000 fine.


Open Container Law



The Open Container Law prohibits possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in the passenger area of any motor vehicle, by any occupant of the vehicle, on any public highway or right of way, whether or not the vehicle is in motion.



Red Light Violation Fines



  • Traditional enforcement: $1,000 maximum fine/3 points.
  • Auto enforcement: $70 maximum fine, not a conviction or record offense; no points; not a moving violation; not to be used by insurers.


Construction Zone Penalties



Speeding violations when workers are present are subject to a $100 - $2,000 enhanced fine, up to 12 months in jail, or both.



Turn Signal Information



You must give a continuous turn signal for an adequate time to alert other drivers before turning.



Hazard Light Information



Hazard light use is permitted.



Funeral Procession Right-of-Way Laws



Funeral Processions:

  • Have the right of way at intersections.
  • Must yield the right of way to an authorized emergency vehicle or law enforcement vehicle giving an audible and visual signal.
  • Must yield the right of way when directed to do so by a traffic officer.
  • If the procession is escorted by the police, a sheriff, or a sheriff's deputy, the procession has the right of way in any street or highway through which they may pass.

Vehicles Not in a Funeral Procession:

  • Shall not interrupt a funeral procession except when authorized to do so by a traffic officer.
  • Shall not join a funeral procession by operating their headlights for the purpose of securing the right of way granted by this Code section to funeral processions.
  • Shall not attempt to pass vehicles in a funeral procession on a two-lane highway.


School Bus Laws



Requirements

  • Vehicles are required to stop unless traveling on the opposite side of a highway divided by a median.

Penalties

  • Failure to stop and remain stopped when required will result in a fine of up to $1,000, up to 6 points on your driving record, and a mandatory court appearance. If the driver is under 21 years of age, the driver's license will be suspended.


Bicyclist Passing Distance



A 3-foot minimum passing distance is required.



Motorcycle Laws



Licensing

  • Operators of motorcycles, motor-driven cycles, and 3-wheeled motorcycles must have a Class M driver's license or a Class MP instruction permit.
  • A person must be at least 16 to receive a Class M license.
  • Motorcycle license applicants who have successfully completed an approved rider education course will be required to pass an eye examination to obtain a Class M license.

Protective Gear

  • No person may operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he or she is wearing protective headgear that complies with standards established by the Commissioner of Public Safety.
  • No person may operate or ride upon a motorcycle that is not equipped with a windshield unless he or she is wearing an eye protective device that complies with standards established by the Commissioner of Public Safety.

Headlights

  • A person operating a motorcycle must keep his headlights and taillights illuminated at all times.

Sharing the Road

  • Lane splitting is not authorized.
  • Two motorcycles may travel side-by-side in a single lane.


Using the Shoulder to Pass



You may not drive off the roadway to pass on the right.



Passing Laws



Do Not Pass:

  • When approaching or upon a hill or curve.
  • When traversing any intersection marked by a solid barrier line on your side of the road or a double yellow line.
  • When traversing any railroad grade crossing.
  • When approaching within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnel.

When Being Passed:

  • Give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle.
  • Do not increase the speed of your vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.


Speed Limits



  • 70 mph on interstate system or on physically divided highways outside of urban areas with a population of 50,000 or more;
  • 65 mph on the interstate system inside urban areas with a population;
  • 50,000 or more or on State divided highways without full access control;
  • 55 mph on other locations;
  • 35 mph on unpaved county road;
  • 30 mph in urban or residential district.


Safety Belt and Child Safety Seat Laws



Safety Belts

  • Occupants age 8 - 17 years in all seats, and occupants 18 years or older in the front seat, must wear safety belts.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for belt law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $15, or $25 if the occupant is 6 - 18 years old.

Child Seats

  • Children 7 years and younger and 57 inches or less must be in a child seat.
  • Children 7 years and younger must be in a rear seat if available.
  • Children more than 57 inches must be restrained, and may use an adult safety belt.
  • Children weighing more than 40 pounds may be restrained in the back seat of a vehicle by a lap belt if the vehicle is not equipped with lap and shoulder belts or when the lap and shoulder belts are being used by other children who weigh more than 40 pounds.
  • Police may stop vehicles solely for child seat law violations.
  • The fine for a first offense is $50.
  • Points will be assessed for a violation of this law.


Emergency Vehicle Laws



Move Over

  • When you see any of these vehicles displaying flashing lights while stopped on or adjacent to the roadway:
    • Emergency vehicles
    • Towing or recovery vehicles
    • Highway maintenance vehicles
  • You must do the following:
    • Make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the authorized emergency vehicle if possible in the existing safety and traffic conditions
    • If a lane change would be impossible, prohibited by law, or unsafe, reduce the speed of the motor vehicle to a reasonable and proper speed for the existing road and traffic conditions, which speed shall be less than the posted speed limit, and be prepared to stop.

Following

  • Do not follow a fire apparatus traveling in response to a fire alarm or any other emergency vehicle closer than 200 feet.
  • Do not park within 500 feet of any fire apparatus has stopped in answer to a fire alarm.

Collision Procedures

  • Stop at the scene or as close as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary, and remain at the scene until all requirements are fulfilled.
  • You must provide the following information to any other person involved in the accident, or any police officer at the scene of the crash:
    • Driver's name and address
    • Vehicle license number
    • Name of liability insurance carrier, or evidence of self-insurance
  • Render assistance
    • Provide assistance to any injured person, including transporting them or making arrangements for transportation to a hospital or doctor, if necessary or requested.
    • If the injured person is unconscious, appears deceased, or is otherwise unable to communicate, make every reasonable effort to ensure that emergency medical services and local law enforcement are contacted for the purpose of reporting the accident and making a request for assistance.
  • Unattended vehicle or property
    • If you have collided with a vehicle that is unattended, locate and notify the operator or owner of the driver's name and address and the owner's name and address. If you are unable to do so, leave a written notice providing this information and a statement of the circumstances.
    • If you have collided with other unattended property on or adjacent to a highway, locate and notify the owner of the driver's name and address, the vehicle registration number, and show your driver's license if requested.
  • Move vehicle
    • If there has been no serious personal injury or death, and the vehicle is capable of being safely driven, it is the duty of the drivers and licensed occupants involved to move the vehicles off the roadway.
    • If there has been serious personal injury or death, the vehicles may not be moved until law enforcement has arrived and gives permission.
  • If the crash resulted in injury, death, or property damage of $500 or more, you must report the accident as quickly as possible to the local police department, county sheriff, or state patrol.


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