Welcome to your 2023 guide on Georgia driving laws.
Now, there are LOTS of driving laws in the state, it can be hard to keep up with everything.
Well, we’re here to give you a summary of the most important laws you should know about.
And to make it easy, we’re going to categorize it into:
- GA driver’s license
- GA driving laws
- GA road rules
We’ll mention all the important topics about each category.
There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get right to it…
Georgia Driving Laws by Category
Here’s an overview of what each category offers…
GA Driver’s License:
- How to Get A Driver’s License in Georgia
- How to Renew Your Driver’s License in Georgia
- How to Get A CDL in Georgia
- Georgia Driver’s License Classes
- How to Get A Georgia Driving Record
GA Driving Laws:
Georgia Road Rules:
The following sections provide you with more details.
Georgia Driver’s License
Every driver starts off with a driver’s license. So let’s look at that first.
How to Get A Driver’s License in Georgia
Aspiring drivers can begin working on their driver’s licenses when they turn 15. However, you get your driving privileges in stages.
Here are the three stages you’ll undergo:
- Getting an instructional permit
- Obtaining a provisional license
- Securing a full driver’s license
So, here are the steps to getting your instructional permit:
- Prepare the required documents. These include proof of identity, Social Security Number, residence in Georgia, and school enrollment.
- Accomplish the License/ID/Permit form on the DDS Online Services page and print out a copy when you’ve finished.
- Visit a DDS Service Center with your parent or legal guardian and do the following:
- Submit the paperwork you gathered
- Pass a vision screening
- Pass the knowledge exam
- Pay the $10 permit fee.
- Have your photo taken.
- Receive your permit.
Next, you can work on your provisional license. Here’s how to do it:
- Ensure your eligibility by complying with the following:
- You are at least 16 years old
- Have your permit for a year and a day unless you’re 17 and enlisted in the military
- You’ve kept a clean driving record
- You’ve completed a driver’s ed program that fulfills the Joshua’s Law in Georgia
- Take an Alcohol and Drug Awareness Program (ADAP).
- Fill out the online form in the DDS Online Service portal and print a copy. Don’t forget to have your parent or guardian sign it in front of a DDS employee.
- Make an appointment for your road test. You can do this through the DDS website.
- Bring the following to your road test appointment:
- Proof of identity, Georgia residence, legal presence, and school enrollment
- Certificates for the ADAP and driver’s ed course
- Your road test vehicle with supporting documents
- A licensed driver over 21 to supervise you
- Pass the vision test.
- Pass the road test.
- Have your photo taken.
- Pay the $10 license fee.
- Exchange your instruction permit for a provisional license.
To get a full driver’s license, upgrade your provisional license once you turn 18 years old.
And just like that, you’ve completed Georgia’s Graduated Driver’s License Program.
How to Renew Your Driver’s License in Georgia
Eventually, your Georgia-issued driver’s license is going to expire. So it’s best to know how to renew it.
You have 4 renewal options in the state — online, through the mobile app, in person, and by mail.
Here’s how to renew it online:
- Ensure your eligibility for an online renewal.
- Go to the DDS Online Services page and click “Renew or Replace a license / ID”.
- Log in or create an account if you don’t have one yet.
- Follow the online prompts and pay the $32 renewal fee. NOTE: You can only use a debit or credit card.
- Print your temporary paper license.
- Wait for your new one to arrive via mail within 45 days.
And here’s how to renew using the DDS 2 Go Mobile App:
- Log in using your online account credentials.
- Follow the prompts and pay the $32 renewal fee.
- Wait for your new credential to arrive via mail.
Not eligible for online renewal? Then here’s how to do it in person:
- Go to the DDS Online Services page and complete the Online License/ID/Permit form. Print it and bring it along.
- Visit a DDS Center with your Georgia REAL ID License. If yours is not REAL ID-compliant, bring documents to prove your identity, Georgia address, and Social Security number.
- You must pass the following tests ONLY IF your license expired more than two years ago:
- Vision test
- Knowledge exam
- Road test
- Have your photo taken.
- Pay the $32 renewal fee.
- Receive your new driver’s license.
Finally, here’s how to renew it by mail:
- Ensure you’re eligible to renew by mail.
- Download a copy of the Mail-In Renewal Packet and follow the instructions.
- Mail the packet with an enclosed payment ($32) to this address:
DDS Special Issuance
2206 Eastview Parkway
Conyers, GA 30013
- Wait for your new license to arrive by mail.
How to Get A CDL in Georgia
Anyone that plans on driving a commercial vehicle needs a commercial driver’s license.
Here, you have to go through an entirely different process to getting your regular driver’s license.
You will first need a CDL permit, complete some requirements, then upgrade it to a CDL.
Here are the steps:
- Fill out the License/ID/Permit form on the DDS website.
- Go to a DDS Customer Service Center and present the following documents:
- Proof of identity, lawful status (for non-U.S. citizens), Georgia residence, and Social Security
- Your valid Georgia-issued driver’s license
- A filled-out CDL Self-Certification form
- A Medical Examiners Certificate (if applicable)
- A Medical Examiner Report Form (if applicable)
- A filled-out Commercial Application (CAP) form (found at the center)
NOTE: The CAP costs $35, except for veterans and school bus drivers with waivers.
- Pay the necessary fees ($10 for the written test and $5 for each endorsement).
- Pass the following tests:
- Vision screening
- General CDL knowledge tests
- Endorsement exams (if any)
- Have your photo taken.
- Pay the $10 permit fee.
NOTE: You only need to pay a permit fee if you didn’t pass your knowledge test on your first try. Otherwise, the testing fee already covers the cost of the permit.
- Receive your CDL permit.
Now, it’s time to work on your CDL:
- Hold your CDL permit for at least 14 days.
- Complete the required FMCSA-approved ELDT program.
- Submit another License/ID/Permit form online.
- Make an appointment to take your CDL skills test and pay the $50 fee.
- Present the following on your schedule:
- Your valid CDL permit
- Your Class C driver’s license
- Your commercial motor vehicle’s registration and insurance papers (if it’s newly purchased, show your bill of sale)
- Pass all three parts of the CDL skills test.
- Pay the $32 license fee.
- Get your CDL.
Georgia Driver’s License Classes
Driver’s license classes are important to the law because you can’t operate a certain vehicle with the wrong license type.
You see what we mean.
This is why it’s important to know about the Georgia license classes and what each one can operate.
So let’s go over them:
- Commercial Class A: operates a combination CMV with a Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) exceeding 26,000 pounds and towing a unit weighing more than 10,000 pounds.
- Commercial Class B: operates a single heavy vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more or any such vehicle towing a unit weighing 10,000 pounds or less.
- Commercial Class C: operates smaller commercial vehicles — those with a GVWR under 26,001 pounds. Also, the vehicle’s design allows them to carry 16 or more passengers (including the driver). You may also use them to transport large quantities of hazardous materials (enough to require placarding).
- Non-Commercial Class C: operates vehicles with a GVWR of less than 26,001 pounds used for personal purposes, including those that can carry 15 passengers or more (excluding the driver). However, you cannot use it to transport hazardous materials.
- Class CP: an instructional permit 15 to 17-year-olds receive when applying for a non-commercial class C driver’s license.
- Class D: Applicants receive this provisional license after holding their instructional permit for some time. Although it allows you to drive unsupervised, there are still restrictions on your driving privileges.
- Class M: A motorcycle-only license. You may also use it to drive motor-driven cycles.
- Class MP: The learner’s permit for 16 and 17-year-old motorcycle drivers after completing the required motorcycle driver’s education.
How to Get A Georgia Driving Record
There are times when you’ll need to present your driving record to the court or the DMV.
Or maybe your auto insurance company is asking for it.
If so, then you can obtain your record online, in person, or through the mail.
Here are the steps for online requests:
- Go to the DDS Online Service page and select “Purchase Driving History (MVR)”.
- Log in or create an account.
- Select the driving record you want to request.
- Pay the fee using a credit card. A 3-year record will cost you $6, while a 7-year or lifetime one is $8.
NOTE: You can also pay through the mail by printing out the payment coupon at the end of your transaction. You can use a check or money order.
- View your driving record. However, if you requested a certified copy, you will have to wait for it to arrive by mail.
And here are the steps for in-person requests:
- Download a copy of the Motor Vehicle Request Form and fill it out.
- Go to a DDS Customer Service Center and bring an original copy of the form.
- Pay $6 for a 3-year record or $8 for a 7-year or lifetime history.
- Receive your driving record.
Finally, here are the steps for mail-in requests:
- Complete a Motor Vehicle Request Form and fill it out accordingly.
- Ensure your details, such as your name, birth date, and driver’s license number matches those on your credentials.
- Include a check payable to the Georgia Department of Driver Services. The amount depends on the MVR you got — $8 for a lifetime or 7-year record and $6 for a 3-year history.
- Send everything to this address:
Post Office Box 80447
Conyers, Georgia 30013
- Wait for your driving record to arrive by mail.
Georgia Driving Laws
When it comes to the actual driving laws, there are 3 that are SUPER important.
So let’s go over them one by one.
Georgia DUI Laws
Your BAC level (how much alcohol you have in your system) determines whether you’re driving under the influence or not.
In Georgia, a law enforcement officer can charge you with a DUI if your BAC levels are as follows:
- 0.02% for drivers younger than 21
- 0.04% for drivers with commercial licenses
- 0.08% for drivers that are above 21
The arresting officer might ask you to take a breathalyzer test, which is a double-edged sword.
A refusal results in a 1-year license suspension because of Georgia’s Implied Consent law. Not just that, you can still be charged with DUI if you show obvious signs of driving under the influence.
However, taking the test confirms your BAC. And if you’re convicted, you’ll face the following penalties:
|Offense||Fine||Jail Time||License Suspension||Community Service|
|First||$300 to $500||10 days to 12 months||12 months||At least 20 hours|
|Second||$600 to $1,000||90 days to 12 months||3 years||At least 30 days|
|Third||$1,000 to $5,000||120 days to 12 months||Permanent Revocation||At least 30 days|
Georgia Car Seat Laws
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that wearing your seatbelt reduces fatalities by 45% and severe injuries by half, especially for those sitting in the front seat.
For complete safety, everyone should buckle up.
But if you want to look at the specifics of the law, you are only required to wear a seatbelt in Georgia if you are sitting in front (driver or passenger).
Those under 18 must buckle up, regardless of where they sit.
Remember, Georgia’s seatbelt law applies to all vehicles that carry 10 passengers or fewer. Violating it results in a $15 fine ($25 if the person not buckled up is a minor).
What about the car seat laws?
If you have a child younger than 8 years old or lighter than 40 pounds, you must ensure they use a car seat.
Georgia has specific requirements for this:
- A rear-facing car seat is for children below a year old or under 20 pounds.
- Children between 1 and 3 years old must be in front-facing car seats. It also applies if your child weighs between 20 to 40 pounds.
- 4 to 8-year-olds and less than 4’9″ must use booster seats.
- 9 and upwards can already use an adult seatbelt, BUT only if it fits properly.
Violating car seat laws has steeper penalties. You pay a $50 fine on your first charge and $100 on your second.
Georgia Distracted Driving Laws
From 2018 to 2020, 4% of all motor vehicle fatalities in Georgia involved distracted driving. That might seem like a small percentage, but it translates to 157 lives.
If you’re wondering what pulls our attention from the road when we’re driving, the answer is A LOT.
A cellphone (which almost everyone has nowadays) is the biggest of them.
This is why the State of Georgia has a distracted driving law focusing specifically on using cellphones or other stand-alone electronic devices (such as tablets or laptops) while driving.
State law prohibits the following:
- Having a wireless telecommunication device on any body part (not just your hands)
- Reading, writing, or sending written messages through a wireless telecommunication device (including those sent through the internet, such as email and instant messages)
- Watching a video or a movie using a hand-held electronic device
- Recording or broadcasting through a wireless telecommunication device
Yes, there are exceptions, such as when reporting an accident or if you’re in an emergency. But for the most part, the law applies.
Remember, Georgia’s distracted driving law has primary enforcement. A police officer can pull you over if they observe you violating it.
If convicted, your fine increases depending on how many times you’ve broken the law in the last 24 months.
A first offense costs $50. A second one, $100. The amount increased to $150 for each occurrence after that.
Georgia Road Rules
After the driving laws, let’s look at the road rules.
Georgia Road Signs
Traffic signs, signals, and pavement markings — these are the things you must be familiar with when driving along Georgia roadways.
There are five kinds of signs in Georgia:
- Regulatory signs support traffic laws and tell you what you can or can’t do.
- Warning signs advise you of potential dangers on the road ahead.
- Guide signs provide directions to different destinations.
- Construction or maintenance signs tell you when roadworks are ongoing in certain areas.
- Service signs lead you to service facilities such as hospitals, gas stations, and public bathrooms.
Here are some examples of these road signs:
As for traffic signals, you usually find them at intersections. Most drivers are familiar with their colors — green means go, red means stop, and yellow means slow down.
However, some signals aren’t for drivers — they’re for pedestrians. For example, the Walk / Don’t Walk sign tells you when you can safely cross the street.
You’ll also see a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (PHB) on streets with heavier traffic. These help people cross busy roads safely.
Lastly, you must pay attention to pavement markings. These indicate where stop lines and crosswalks are.
It also indicates where traffic flows and whether or not you can pass.
If the lines are dashed, this means that you can pass other vehicles. If it is solid, however, passing is prohibited as it’s a dangerous area.
What’s more, pavement markings indicate bicycle and turn lanes, allowing you to adjust your driving behavior while in that lane.
Georgia Road Rules
Being a responsible driver means knowing how to share the road safely with other vehicles.
In Georgia, you can expect bicycles, trucks, school buses, motorcycles, and pedestrians on the streets. Here’s how to travel safely with each one:
- Bicycles: treat cyclists as you would any other driver. Don’t crowd them — give them the entire width of a lane. Don’t use the same lane as the bicycle if you want to pass.
- Trucks: Don’t follow trucks closely — they need three times as much stopping distance as regular vehicles. Give them enough space to maneuver if they’re turning — don’t try to squeeze between a truck and the curb. Stay out of their No-Zones because they cannot see you from there.
- School buses: You must stop behind the bus if it’s loading or unloading children (you can’t miss it with its flashing lights). It applies to all vehicles, regardless of which direction you’re going. The only exception is if there is a raised barrier — in this case, only vehicles traveling in the same direction as the bus must stop.
- Motorcycles: Check your blindspots — bikes can suddenly appear as you’re about to enter or exit a lane or roadway. Don’t try to drive side-by-side with a motorcycle — they deserve to have an entire lane’s width. Keep enough distance between you and the bike — following the 3-second rule is a good gauge.
- Pedestrians: You must yield the right of way to pedestrians, especially those who are:
- Already halfway across the crosswalk or still on it after the light turns green
- Crossing the intersection as you’re about to turn
- Visually impaired (you can identify them through their use of a white cane or having a service dog)
Georgia Road Conditions
Another important rule is to know how to maneuver your way in different road conditions.
Here are some examples of what you can encounter and what you can do:
- Driving in thick fog: Pull over if you can. Reduce your speed and dim your lights if you can’t. Use your fog lights since these cut through the fog.
- Driving during winter: Ensure your car’s working fine before traveling in the snow and ice. That means checking the battery, windshield wiper reservoir, defrosters, and tires (swap them out for snow tires if you can). Travel at a slower speed than you usually do.
- Driving on curvy roads: The best thing you can do is slow down — you’re more likely to skid if you enter a curve too fast. Follow the posted speed limit, especially if you’re approaching a sharp turn.
- Leaving the roadway: If the pavement ends and you’re driving over uneven ground, observe what other vehicles are doing and practice defensive driving. If you feel yourself losing control, take your foot off the accelerator to lose speed — don’t slam on the brakes.
- Driving through traffic: Apply the three-second rule. This way, if the vehicle in front of you suddenly stops, you have a better chance of avoiding a crash. Drive defensively and avoid distractions. Stay in your lane (don’t attempt to weave in and out of traffic).
Some Final Words
That was a lot…
However, all the essential information about Georgia driving laws is here.
So whether you’re getting a driver’s license, preparing for a road trip in winter, or simply curious about how to deal with cyclists, you’re sure to get the answers you need.
Remember, you can always check out the more detailed guides for each law we covered — but this page can serve as your one-stop-shop for driving safely in Georgia.