New legislation prohibits the use of cell phones while driving
Beginning July 1, drivers in Tennessee could face up to $200 in fines for using their cell phone while driving. According to the new law, drivers 18 and older will be prohibited from holding or physically supporting a phone while driving. Hands-free devices, including earpieces, headphone devices, or a device worn on a wrist to conduct voice-based communication, will be allowed. Drivers can also use dashboard mounts.
Activities prohibited with a wireless telecommunications device in the new law while operating a motor vehicle on any road or highway in the state include:
• Physically holding or supporting with any part of a person’s body
• Writing, sending or reading any text-based communications including but not limited to text messages, instant messages, email or internet data
• Reaching for a device in a manner that requires the driver to no longer be in a seated driving position or properly restrained by a safety belt
• Watching a video or movie
• Recording or broadcasting video
The hands-free legislation was passed in April, with the Senate approving the ban 23-7.
A driver’s first violation will result in a $50 fine. If the driver is caught using a cell phone for a third offense or it results in a wreck, the fine jumps to $100. Furthermore, if the violation occurs in a work zone with workers present or in a school zone when warning flashers are on, the fine is $200.
The new bill excludes law enforcement, first responders, and utility workers in addition to others using the cell phone to place an emergency call.
Young drivers, under the age of 18, are already banned from talking on a phone while driving and all drivers are banned from texting and driving under prior legislation.
Tennessee is the 19th state to pass legislation banning cell phone use while driving.