Georgia Traffic Laws and Vehicle Definitions (O.C.G.A. § 40-1-1)
Legal Commentary. This statute provides the definitions for the Georgia Traffic Laws. Vehicles, rights of way (roads, bike paths, streets etc., are defined) as well as districts, equipment and certain other designations are defined below. We are a law firm that handles serious motor vehicle accident cases, and we provide a free initial confidential consultation to accident injury victims. To set up your free consultation, send the firm a message online or call toll-free at 866-972-5287 or in Atlanta at 770-717-5100. As an experienced vehicle accident lawyer, Charles Scholle has represented catastrophically injured people and bereaved families for nearly two decades, building a strong record of successes.
See the full text of the statute below:Section 40-1-1 Definitions
As used in this title, the term:
(1) "Alcohol concentration" means grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.
(2) "Alley" means a street or highway intended to provide access to the rear or side of lots or buildings in urban districts and not intended for the purpose of through vehicular traffic.
(3) "All-terrain vehicle" means any motorized vehicle designed for off-road use which is equipped with three or more low pressure tires and with a seat to be straddled by the operator and with handlebars for steering control.
(4) "Arterial street" means any U.S. or state numbered route, controlled-access highway, or other major radial or circumferential street or highway designated by local authorities within their respective jurisdictions as part of a major arterial system of streets or highways.
(5) "Authorized emergency vehicle" means a motor vehicle belonging to a public utility corporation or operated by the Department of Transportation and designated as an emergency vehicle by the Department of Public Safety; a motor vehicle belonging to a fire department or a certified private vehicle belonging to a volunteer firefighter or a fire-fighting association, partnership, or corporation; an ambulance; or a motor vehicle belonging to a federal, state, or local law enforcement agency, provided such vehicle is in use as an emergency vehicle by one authorized to use it for that purpose.
(6) "Bicycle" means every device propelled by human power upon which any person may ride, having only two wheels which are in tandem and either of which is more than 13 inches in diameter.
(6.1) "Bicycle lane" means a portion of the roadway that has been designated by striping, pavement markings, or signage for the exclusive or preferential use of persons operating bicycles. Bicycle lanes shall at a minimum, unless impracticable, be required to meet accepted guidelines, recommendations, and criteria with respect to planning, design, operation, and maintenance as set forth by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
(6.2) "Bicycle path" means a right of way under the jurisdiction and control of this state or a local political subdivision thereof designated for use by bicycle riders.
(6.3) "Bicycle trailer" means every device pulled by a bicycle and designed by the manufacturer of such device to carry human passengers.
(7) "Bus" means every motor vehicle designed for carrying more than ten passengers and used for the transportation of persons and every motor vehicle, other than a taxicab, designed and used for the transportation of persons for compensation.
(8) "Business district" means the territory contiguous to and including a highway when within any 600 feet along such highway there are buildings in use for business or industrial purposes, including but not limited to hotels, banks, office buildings, railroad stations, and public buildings which occupy at least 300 feet of frontage on one side or 300 feet collectively on both sides of the highway.
(8.1) "Class I all-terrain vehicle" means a motorized, off-highway recreational vehicle 50 inches or less in width with a dry weight of 1,000 pounds or less that travels on three or more low-pressure tires, has a saddle or seat for the operator, and is designed for or capable of cross-country travel on or immediately over land, water, sand, snow, ice, marsh, swampland, or other natural terrain.
(8.2) "Class II all-terrain vehicle" means any motor vehicle that:
(A) Weighs more than a class I all-terrain vehicle and less than 8,000 pounds;
(B) Is designed for or capable of cross-country travel on or immediately over land, water, sand, snow, ice, marsh, swampland, or other natural terrain; and
(C) Is actually being operated off a highway.
(8.3) "Commercial motor vehicle" means any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle used on a highway in intrastate and interstate commerce to transport passengers or property when the vehicle:
(A) Has a gross vehicle weight rating, gross combination weight rating, gross vehicle weight, or gross combination weight of 4,537 kg (10,001 lbs.) or more;
(B) Is designed or used to transport more than eight passengers, including the driver, for compensation;
(C) Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, and is not used to transport passengers for compensation; or
(D) Is used to transport material determined to be hazardous by the secretary of the United States Department of Transportation under 49 U.S.C. Section 5103 and transported in a quantity that requires placards under regulations prescribed under 49 C.F.R., Subtitle B, Chapter I, Subchapter C.
(9) "Controlled-access highway" means every highway, street, or roadway in respect to which owners or occupants of abutting lands and other persons have no legal right of access to or from the same except only at such points and in such manner as may be determined by the public authority having jurisdiction over such highway, street, or roadway.
(10) "Crosswalk" means:
(A) That part of a roadway at an intersection included within the connections of the lateral lines of the sidewalks on opposite sides of the highway measured from the curbs or in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the traversable roadway; or
(B) Any portion of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface.
(11) "Dealer" means a person engaged in the business of buying, selling, or exchanging vehicles who has an established place of business in this state.
(12) "Demonstrator" means any motor vehicle which has not been the subject of a sale at retail to the general public but which has been operated on the roads of this state in the course of a motor vehicle dealer's business.
(13) "Divided highway" means a highway divided into two or more roadways by leaving an intervening space or by a physical barrier or by a clearly indicated dividing section so constructed as to impede vehicular traffic.
(14) "Driver" means every person who drives or is in actual physical control of a vehicle.
(15) "Driver's license" means any license to operate a motor vehicle issued under the laws of this state.
(15.5) "Electric assisted bicycle" means a device with two or three wheels which has a saddle and fully operative pedals for human propulsion and also has an electric motor. For such a device to be considered an electric assisted bicycle, it shall meet the requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, as set forth in 49 C.F.R. Section 571, et seq., and shall operate in such a manner that the electric motor disengages or ceases to function when the brakes are applied. The electric motor in an electric assisted bicycle shall:
(A) Have a power output of not more than 1,000 watts;
(B) Be incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than 20 miles per hour on level ground; and
(C) Be incapable of further increasing the speed of the device when human power alone is used to propel the device at or more than 20 miles per hour.
(15.6) "Electric personal assistive mobility device" or "EPAMD" means a self-balancing, two nontandem wheeled device designed to transport only one person and having an electric propulsion system with average power of 750 watts (1 horsepower) and a maximum speed of less than 20 miles per hour on a paved level surface when powered solely by such propulsion system and ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds.
(16) "Explosives" means any chemical compound or mechanical mixture that is commonly used or intended for the purpose of producing an explosion and which contains any oxidizing and combustive units or other ingredients in such proportions, quantities, or packing that an ignition by fire, by friction, by concussion, by percussion, or by detonator of any part of the compound or mixture may cause such a sudden generation of highly heated gases that the resultant gaseous pressures are capable of producing destructive effects on contiguous objects or of destroying life or limb.
(17) "Flammable liquid" means any liquid which has a flash point of 141 degrees Fahrenheit or less.
(18) "Gross weight" means the weight of a vehicle without load plus the weight of any load thereon.
(18.1) "Hazardous material" means a substance or material as designated pursuant to the Federal Hazardous Materials Law, 49 U.S.C. Section 5103(a).
(19) "Highway" means the entire width between the boundary lines of every way publicly maintained when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.
(20) "House trailer" means:
(A) A trailer or semitrailer which is designed, constructed, and equipped as a dwelling place or living abode (either permanently or temporarily) and is equipped for use as a conveyance on streets and highways; or
(B) A trailer or a semitrailer whose chassis and exterior shell is designed and constructed for use as a house trailer, as defined in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, but which is used instead permanently or temporarily for the advertising, sales, display, or promotion of merchandise or services, or for any other commercial purpose except the transportation of property for hire or the transportation of property for distribution by a private carrier.
(21) "Implement of husbandry" means a vehicle designed and adapted exclusively for agricultural, horticultural, or livestock-raising operations or for lifting or carrying an implement of husbandry and in either case not subject to registration if used upon the highways.
(21.1) "Infant sling" means every device which is designed by the manufacturer to be worn by a person for the purpose of carrying an infant either on the chest or back of the wearer.
(22)(A) "Intersection" means the area embraced within the prolongation or connection of the lateral curb lines, or, if none, then the lateral boundary lines of the roadways of two highways which join one another at, or approximately at, right angles, or the area within which vehicles traveling upon different highways joining at any other angle may come in conflict.
(B) Where a highway includes two roadways 30 feet or more apart, then every crossing of each roadway of such divided highway by an intersecting highway shall be regarded as a separate intersection. In the event such intersecting highway also includes two roadways 30 feet or more apart, then every crossing of two roadways of such highways shall be regarded as a separate intersection.
(C) The junction of an alley with a street or highway shall not constitute an intersection.
(23) "Laned roadway" means a roadway which is divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for vehicular traffic.
(24) "License" or "license to operate a motor vehicle" means any driver's license or any other license or permit to operate a motor vehicle issued under, or granted by, the laws of this state, including:
(A) Any temporary license or instruction permit;
(B) The privilege of any person to drive a motor vehicle whether or not such person holds a valid license; and
(C) Any nonresident's operating privilege as defined in this Code section.
(24.1) "Lightweight commercial vehicle" means a motor vehicle which does not meet the definition of a commercial motor vehicle and which, in the furtherance of a commercial enterprise:
(A) Is used to transport hazardous materials in a type and quantity for which placards are not required in accordance with the Hazardous Materials Regulations prescribed by the United States Department of Transportation, Title 49 C.F.R. Part 172, Subpart F, or compatible rules prescribed by the commissioner of public safety;
(B) Is used to transport property for compensation;
(C) Is used to transport passengers for compensation, other than a taxicab; or
(D) Is a wrecker or tow truck.
(24.2) "Limousine" has the same meaning as provided in paragraph (4) of Code Section 46-7-85.1.
(25) "Local authorities" means every county, municipal, and other local board or body having authority to enact laws relating to traffic under the Constitution and laws of this state.
(25.1) "Low-speed vehicle" means any four-wheeled electric vehicle whose top speed attainable in one mile is greater than 20 miles per hour but not greater than 25 miles per hour on a paved level surface and which is manufactured in compliance with those federal motor vehicle safety standards for low-speed vehicles set forth in 49 C.F.R. Section 571.500 and in effect on January 1, 2001.
(26) "Manufacturer" means a person engaged in the manufacture of vehicles and who has an established place of business in this state.
(27) "Metal tire" means every tire of which the surface in contact with the highway is wholly or partly of metal or other hard, nonresilient material. A vehicle shall be considered equipped with metal tires when metal tires are used on two or more wheels.
(28) "Moped" means a motor driven cycle equipped with two or three wheels, with or without foot pedals to permit muscular propulsion, and an independent power source providing a maximum of two brake horsepower. If a combustion engine is used, the maximum piston or rotor displacement shall be 3.05 cubic inches (50 cubic centimeters) regardless of the number of chambers in such power source. The power source shall be capable of propelling the vehicle, unassisted, at a speed not to exceed 30 miles per hour (48.28 kilometers per hour) on level road surface and shall be equipped with a power drive system that functions directly or automatically only, not requiring clutching or shifting by the operator after the drive system is engaged.
(28.1) "Motor carrier" shall have the same meaning as provided for in Code Section 40-2-1, and the terms "carrier" and "motor carrier" are synonymous.
(29) "Motorcycle" means every motor vehicle having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground, but excluding a tractor, all-terrain vehicle, and moped.
(30) "Motor driven cycle" means every motorcycle, including every motor scooter, with a motor which produces not to exceed five brake horsepower, every bicycle with a motor attached, and every moped.
(31) "Motor home" means every motor vehicle designed, used, or maintained primarily as a mobile dwelling, office, or commercial space.
(32) "Motorized cart" means every motor vehicle having no less than three wheels and an unladen weight of 1,300 pounds or less and which cannot operate at more than 20 miles per hour.
(33) "Motor vehicle" means every vehicle which is self-propelled other than an electric personal assistive mobility device (EPAMD).
(34) "New motor vehicle" means any motor vehicle which is not a demonstrator and has never been the subject of a sale at retail to the general public.
(35) "Nonresident" means every person who is not a resident of this state.
(36) "Nonresident's operating privilege" means the privilege conferred upon a nonresident by the laws of this state pertaining to the operation by such person of a motor vehicle or the use of a vehicle owned by such person in this state.
(37) "Official traffic-control devices" means all signs, signals, markings, and devices not inconsistent with this title which are placed or erected by authority of a public body or official having jurisdiction for the purpose of regulating, warning, or guiding traffic.
(38) "Operator" means any person who drives or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle.
(39) "Owner" means a person, other than a lienholder or security interest holder, having the property in or title to a vehicle. The term includes a person entitled to the use and possession of a vehicle subject to a security interest in or lien by another person but excludes a lessee under a lease not intended as security except as otherwise specifically provided in this title.
(40) "Park" or "parking" means the standing of a vehicle, whether occupied or not, otherwise than temporarily for the purpose of and while actually engaged in loading or unloading property or passengers.
(41) "Passenger car" means every motor vehicle, except motorcycles, motor driven cycles, and low-speed vehicles, designed for carrying ten passengers or less and used for the transportation of persons.
(42) "Pedestrian" means any person afoot.
(42.1) "Pedestrian hybrid beacon" means a special type of hybrid beacon used to warn and control traffic at locations without a traffic-control signal to assist pedestrians in crossing a street or highway at a marked crosswalk.
(43) "Person" means every natural person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, or trust.
(43.1) (For effective date, see note.) "Personal transportation vehicle" means any motor vehicle:
(A) With a minimum of four wheels;
(B) Capable of a maximum level ground speed of less than 20 miles per hour;
(C) With a maximum gross vehicle unladen or empty weight of 1,375 pounds; and
(D) Capable of transporting not more than eight persons.
The term does not include mobility aids, including power wheelchairs and scooters, that can be used indoors and outdoors for the express purpose of enabling mobility for a person with a disability. The term also does not include any all-terrain vehicle.
(44) "Pneumatic tire" means every tire in which compressed air is designed to support the load. A vehicle shall be considered equipped with pneumatic tires when pneumatic tires are used on all wheels.
(45) "Pole trailer" means every vehicle without motive power designed to be drawn by another vehicle and attached to the towing vehicle by means of a reach or pole, or by being boomed or otherwise secured to the towing vehicle, and ordinarily used for transporting long or irregularly shaped loads such as poles, pipes, or structural members capable, generally, of sustaining themselves as beams between the supporting connections.
(46) "Police officer" means every officer authorized to direct or regulate traffic or to make arrests for violations of traffic regulations.
(47) "Private road or driveway" means every way or place in private ownership and used for vehicular traffic by the owner and those having express or implied permission from the owner, but not by other persons.
(48) "Railroad" means a carrier of persons or property upon cars operated upon stationary rails.
(49) "Railroad sign or signal" means any sign, signal, or device erected by authority of a public body or official or by a railroad and intended to give notice of the presence of railroad tracks or the approach of a railroad train.
(50) "Railroad train" means a steam engine or electric engine or other motor, with or without cars coupled thereto, operated upon rails.
(50.1) "Regulatory compliance inspection" means the examination of facilities, property, buildings, vehicles, drivers, employees, cargo, packages, records, books, or supporting documentation kept or required to be kept in the normal course of business or enterprise operations.
(51) "Residence district" means the territory contiguous to and including a highway not comprising a business district, when the property on such highway for a distance of 300 feet or more is in the main improved with residences or residences and buildings in use for business.
(52) "Right of way" means the right of one vehicle or pedestrian to proceed in a lawful manner in preference to another vehicle or pedestrian approaching under such circumstances of direction, speed, and proximity as to give rise to danger of collision unless one grants precedence to the other.
(53) "Roadway" means that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder. In the event a highway includes two or more separate roadways, the term "roadway" shall refer to any such roadway separately, but not to all such roadways collectively.
(54) "Safety zone" means the area or space officially set apart within a roadway for the exclusive use of pedestrians and which is protected or is so marked or indicated by adequate signs as to be plainly visible at all times while set apart as a safety zone.
(55) "School bus" means:
(A) A motor vehicle operated for the transportation of school children to and from school or school activities or for the transportation of children to and from church or church activities. Such term shall not include a motor vehicle with a capacity of 15 persons or less operated for the transportation of school children to and from school activities or for the transportation of children to and from church or church activities if such motor vehicle is not being used for the transportation of school children to and from school; or
(B) A motor vehicle operated by a local transit system which meets the equipment and identification requirements of Code Section 40-8-115; provided, however, that such vehicle shall be a school bus only while transporting school children and no other passengers to or from school.
(56) "Semitrailer" means every vehicle with or without motive power, other than a pole trailer, designed for carrying persons or property and for being drawn by a motor vehicle and so constructed that some part of its weight and that of its load rests upon or is carried by another vehicle.
(57) "Sidewalk" means that portion of a street between the curb lines, or the lateral lines of a railway, and the adjacent property lines, intended for use by pedestrians.
(58) "Solid tires" means tires of rubber or similarly elastic material that do not depend on confined air for the support of the load. A vehicle shall be considered equipped with solid tires when solid tires are used on two or more wheels.
(59) "Special mobile equipment" means every vehicle not designed or used primarily for the transportation of persons or property and only incidentally operated or moved over a highway, including but not limited to: ditch-digging apparatus, well-boring apparatus, and road construction and maintenance machinery such as asphalt spreaders, bituminous mixers, bucket loaders, tractors other than truck tractors, ditchers, leveling graders, finishing machines, motor graders, road rollers, scarifiers, earth-moving carryalls and scrapers, power shovels and drag lines, and self-propelled cranes and earth-moving equipment. The term does not include house trailers, dump trucks, truck mounted transit mixers, cranes or shovels, or other vehicles designed for the transportation of persons or property to which machinery has been attached.
(60) "Stand" or "standing" means the halting of a vehicle, whether occupied or not, otherwise than temporarily for the purpose of and while actually engaged in receiving or discharging passengers.
(61) "State" means a state, territory, or possession of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or a province of Canada.
(62) "Stop" or "stopping":
(A) When required, means complete cessation from movement; or
(B) When prohibited, means any halting, even momentarily, of a vehicle, whether occupied or not, except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic or in compliance with the directions of a police officer or traffic-control sign or signal.
(63) "Street" means the entire width between boundary lines of every way publicly maintained when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.
(63.1) "Taxicab" means a motor vehicle for hire which conveys passengers between locations of their choice and is a mode of public transportation for a single passenger or small group for a fee. Such term shall also mean taxi or cab, but not a bus or school bus, limousine, passenger car, or commercial motor vehicle.
(64) "Through highway" means every highway or portion thereof on which vehicular traffic is given preferential right of way and at the entrances to which vehicular traffic from intersecting highways is required by law to yield the right of way to vehicles on such through highway in obedience to a stop sign, yield sign, or other official traffic-control device, when such signs or devices are erected as provided in this title.
(65) "Tractor" means any self-propelled vehicle designed for use as a traveling power plant or for drawing other vehicles but having no provision for carrying loads independently.
(66) "Traffic" means pedestrians, ridden or herded animals, vehicles, and other conveyances either singly or together while using any highway for purposes of travel.
(67) "Traffic-control signal" means any device, whether manually, electrically, or mechanically operated, by which traffic is alternately directed to stop and permitted to proceed.
(68) "Trailer" means every vehicle with or without motive power, other than a pole trailer, designed for carrying persons or property and for being drawn by a motor vehicle and so constructed that no part of its weight rests upon the towing vehicle.
(69) "Tripper service" means regularly scheduled mass transportation service which is open to the fare-paying public but which is also designed or modified to accommodate the needs of elementary or secondary school students and school personnel.
(70) "Truck" means every motor vehicle designed, used, or maintained primarily for the transportation of property.
(71) "Truck camper" means any structure designed, used, or maintained primarily to be loaded on or affixed to a motor vehicle to provide a mobile dwelling, sleeping place, office, or commercial space.
(72) "Truck tractor" means every motor vehicle designed and used primarily for drawing other vehicles and not so constructed as to carry a load other than a part of the weight of the vehicle and load so drawn.
(73) "Urban district" means the territory contiguous to and including any street which is built up with structures devoted to business, industry, or dwelling houses situated at intervals of less than 100 feet for a distance of a quarter of a mile or more.
(74) "Used motor vehicle" means any motor vehicle which has been the subject of a sale at retail to the general public.
(75) "Vehicle" means every device in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, excepting devices used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.
(76) "Wrecker" means a vehicle designed, equipped, or used to tow or carry other motor vehicles by means of a hoist, crane, sling, lift, or roll-back or slide back platform, by a mechanism of a like or similar character, or by any combination thereof, and the terms "tow truck" and "wrecker" are synonymous.
HISTORY: Ga. L. 1927, p. 226, § 2; Code 1933, § 68-101; Ga. L. 1953, Nov.-Dec. Sess., p. 556, §§ 1-9, 11, 13-21; Ga. L. 1966, p. 183, § 1; Ga. L. 1970, p. 586, § 1; Ga. L. 1973, p. 595, § 1; Ga. L. 1973, p. 598, § 1; Code 1933, § 68A-101, enacted by Ga. L. 1974, p. 633, § 1; Ga. L. 1978, p. 1483, § 1; Ga. L. 1978, p. 2241, §§ 1, 3, 4; Ga. L. 1982, p. 3, § 40; Ga. L. 1983, p. 633, § 1; Ga. L. 1988, p. 691, §§ 1, 2; Ga. L. 1988, p. 1893, § 1; Ga. L. 1989, p. 1792, § 1; Ga. L. 1990, p. 2048, § 1; Ga. L. 1993, p. 518, § 1; Ga. L. 1994, p. 97, § 40; Ga. L. 1996, p. 236, § 1; Ga. L. 1997, p. 419, § 1; Ga. L. 1999, p. 334, § 1; Ga. L. 2001, p. 4, § 40; Ga. L. 2002, p. 506, § 2; Ga. L. 2002, p. 512, §§ 2, 3; Ga. L. 2002, p. 660, § 4; Ga. L. 2002, p. 1259, § 11; Ga. L. 2002, p. 1378, § 1; Ga. L. 2003, p. 308, §§ 1, 2, 3; Ga. L. 2004, p. 67, § 1; Ga. L. 2004, p. 746, § 1; Ga. L. 2006, p. 428, § 1/HB 654; Ga. L. 2007, p. 652, § 1/HB 518; Ga. L. 2010, p. 143, § 1/HB 1005; Ga. L. 2010, p. 442, § 4/HB 1174; Ga. L. 2011, p. 247, § 1/SB 240; Ga. L. 2011, p. 426, § 1/HB 101; Ga. L. 2011, p. 479, §§ 6, 7, 8/HB 112.