It will be against the law to hold your phone while driving in Tennessee beginning next month.
This is the result of a bill that was introduced by Rep. John Holsclaw Jr. (R-Elizabethton) and signed into law by Governor Bill Lee late last month.
Currently, it is illegal to talk on a hand-held device in a school zone and for drivers under 18 to talk on a hand-held at any time while driving.
Now, it will be against the law for all drivers to talk on a hand-held device while driving. The new law also bars drivers under 18 years old from talking on the phone at all even when using a hands-free device.
Specifically, the law prohibits the following while driving:
• Physically holding or supporting a device with any part of the body
• Reaching for a wireless device that requires the driver to move from a seated position or undue their seatbelt
• Watching a video or movie while driving
• Recording or broadcasting
Some exceptions to the law include activating functions on wireless devices with one tap or swipe while the device is mounted on the windshield, dashboard, or console. This must be done in a way that doesn’t hinder the driver’s view of the road.
However, even when mounted, phones can’t be used for taking pictures or videos, playing games, or any other non-navigational functions.
Police officers, emergency personnel, utility employees, or drivers talking on the phone with emergency services, if there is indeed an emergency, are excluded from the law.
A violation of the law is a Class C misdemeanor and will result in a moving violation citation.
Those who break this law must pay a maximum fine of $200 plus up to $50 in court costs.
On the first two offenses, drivers will pay no more than a $50 fine or complete a driver education class. After the third offense or if the violation results in an accident, the fine raises to a maximum of $100. But, if the violation occurs in a work or school zone, the fine is upped to $200.
The law is set to go into effect on July 1st.