Tennessee Hands Free Driving Law In Effect July 1st!

285

Starting July 1st, Tennessee’s new law (Public Chapter No. 412/House Bill No. 164) banning the hand-held use of cellphones and mobile devices while driving will be in effect. The law makes it illegal for a driver to:

  1. Physically hold or support with any part of a persons body, a wireless telecommunications device or a stand-alone electronic device. 
  2. Write, send, or read any text-based communication, including but not limited to a text message, instant message, email, or internet data or a wireless telecommunications device or stand-alone electronic device. 
  3. Reach for a cellphone or mobile device in a manner that requires the driver to no longer be in a seated driving position or properly restrained by a seat belt.
  4. Watch a video or movie on a cellphone or mobile device other than viewing data related to the navigation of the motor vehicle.
  5. Record or broadcast video on a cellphone or mobile device.

Although the law has some strict limits on cell phone and mobile device usage, there are some specific exceptions to the law that people should be aware of:

  1. A driver is permitted to use an earpiece, headphone device, or device worn on a wrist to conduct voice-based communication.
  2. The driver may use one (1) button on a cell phone or mobile device to initiate or terminate voice communication.
  3. Voice-based communications can be used to send a text message.
  4. A driver is permitted to use a cellphone or other wireless telecommunications device to communicate with law enforcement agencies, medical providers, fire departments, or other emergency service agencies while driving a motor vehicle, if the use is necessitated by a bona fide emergency, including a natural or human occurrence that threatens human health, life, or property.

Violating this new law is a Class C misdemeanor and is considered a moving traffic violation. The fines for violating the new law include:

  • $50 = First-time offense
  • $100 = Third-time offense or higher; violation results in a car crash
  • $200 = Violation occurs in a work zone while workers are present; violation occurs in a marked school zone while flashers are in operation

This new law does not apply to the following persons:

  1. Officers of this state or of any county, city, or town charged with the enforcement of the laws of this state, or federal law enforcement officers when in the actual discharge of their official duties.
  2. Campus police officers and public safety officers, as defined by $ a9- 7-118, when in the actual discharge of their official duties.
  3. Emergency medical technicians, emergency medical technician paramedics, and firefighters, both volunteer and career, when in the actual discharge of their official duties.
  4. Emergency management agency officers of this state or of any county, city, or town, when in the actual discharge of their official duties.
  5. Persons using a wireless telecommunications device to communicate with law enforcement agencies, medical providers, fire departments, or other emergency service agencies while driving a motor vehicle, if the use is necessitated by a bona fide emergency, including a natural or human occurrence that threatens human health, life, or property.
  6. Employees or contractors of utility services providers acting within the scope of their employment.
  7. Persons who are lawfully stopped or parked in their motor vehicles or who lawfully leave standing their motor vehicles.

For additional information, please visit the new Hands Free TN website, and to read the entire bill you can click here!