Tennessee's hands-free bill goes into effect July 1
Big changes are coming for drivers in Tennessee. In just a couple of weeks the Hands-Free law will take effect.
Beginning July 1st, 2019 police can pull someone over and issue a ticket if they spot them on their phone-- regardless if they were texting or just switching the song on their device.
"We enforce the law and I would think most officers would agree that it's something that needed to change in order to make the roads safer," said Investigator Chris Mullinix with the Chattanooga Police Department.
Law enforcement says distracted is a problem in Chattanooga.
"We've had an increase in fatalities this year in the city. The hope is to try and reduce serious traffic crashes and crashes in general," Mullinix told Channel 3.
After almost 7 years as an officer, Chris Mullinix says he's seen his share of accidents. Many of the wrecks are a result of people using their phones, he hopes this new law will change that.
"When you work them all the time like our traffic unit does, and you see what happens to people from accidents, it starts to change your perspective," recalled Mullinix.
The first time police see someone on their phone while driving, it is a $50 fine. If the violation results in a wreck, it is a $100 fine and if you are in a work or school zone it is a $200 fine.
Officer Mullinix suggests getting a blue tooth headset if your car doesn't already have it. He also suggests investing in a holder for your cellphone that can be attached to the dashboard.
For those worried about the temptation of checking their phones, Officer Mullinix says, "Put it in your pocket. Leave your phone in your pocket. Figure out where you're going before you leave. And then if you need to make a call or check your GPS, pull over or get off at an exit."
Tennessee is the 19th state to adopt this law. Police say they will be giving warnings during the month of July as people get used to the new law. They also tell Channel 3 that just because someone is at a stoplight, doesn't mean they can pull out their phone.