Tennessee's New Texting and Driving Law

Tennessee has a history of distracted driving and, in fact, the rate of deaths associated with this dangerous habit is one of the highest in the country. There is an average of 67 crashes every day, which are all caused by distracted driving. To combat the state’s alarmingly high numbers, a new law, known as the Hands Free Law, was enacted to discourage drivers from reaching for their cell phones while operating a motor vehicle.

What is Illegal Under Tennessee’s Hands Free Law?

The new law in Tennessee, which will become effective on July 1, 2019, makes it illegal for drivers to do any of the following:

  • Hold any type of mobile device, such as a cell phone or tablet
  • Read, write, or send texts
  • Reach for a mobile device in a way that would prevent the driver from being appropriately seated or wearing a seat belt
  • View a video on a mobile device
  • Broadcast or record video on a mobile device

As is the case with any rule, there are some exceptions to Tennessee’s Hands Free Law, which includes:

  • Individuals who are lawfully parked in a motor vehicle
  • Emergency personnel, such as firefighters and paramedics
  • Campus safety officers or police officers
  • Officers of the state or any of its cities, counties, or towns charged with the enforcement of the laws, or federal law enforcement officers
  • Individuals using wireless telecommunications to speak to law enforcement agencies, fire departments, medical providers, or another emergency service agency while driving

What is Still Legal Under Tennessee’s Hands Free Law?

Drivers are permitted to talk on a cell phone if they use an earpiece or headphones. If you are writing and sending texts through voice-based communication, this is also still permissible. For those who enjoy streaming music from their cell phone, doing so is still legal under this new law as long as you do not touch the cell phone at any point to use the music app or to access your music library.

Is it Legal to Record on a Mobile Device Under this Law?

Lately, there has been a trend of people filming police encounters, which is a great way to ensure that, if your rights are violated, you have evidence that proves the incident occurred. Under the new Hands Free Law, it is illegal to record or broadcast video with a mobile device while driving. However, if you are parked or lawfully stopped, it is legal to use a mobile device to record. Essentially, the new law is only trying to prevent accidents and is not seeking to impede anyone’s rights.

The Penalties of Tennessee’s Hands Free Law

Violations of this new law will be treated as a Class C misdemeanor. Depending on how many offenses you have on your record, the penalties will become increasingly steeper.

Penalties include:

  • First offense: A $50 fine
  • Third offense and higher or if the violation resulted in a collision: A $100 fine
  • The violation occurred in a work zone or in a marked school zone when flashers were in operation: A $200 fine

Additionally, you would receive 3 points on your driving record for every offense. After receiving 12 points, your driver’s license would be suspended.

Reach Out to a Distracted Driving Accident Attorney!

Were you injured in an accident that was caused by a distracted driver? You need to contact an attorney at Meade Law Group for the experienced legal representation you need to hold the responsible party liable for your suffering. Our law firm has been building a reputation for excellence since 1979 and has a history of proven success.

Call our office today at (423) 464-7779 to request a free and confidential case review with a knowledgeable member of our personal injury team to discuss your case and find out more about how we can help you.