Law enforcement urges Tennessee drivers to prepare to go hands-free Monday
In just three days, Tennessee will join at least 30 other states in enforcing hands-free driving. Law enforcement officers say they will not be taking the law lightly.
The new law goes into effect Monday, July 1.
Some drivers we spoke to say they’re excited.
“Cause they can be paying attention to what's in front of them instead of their phone,” said one driver.
While others are not confident drivers will obey the new law.
“I don't know that everybody's going to abide by it at first,” said Jennifer Calhoon. “It's up to the police you know maybe a few tickets and penalties maybe everybody will be a little safe.”
That is exactly what law enforcement officers plan to do.
“We don't want to have to go work a bunch of crashes and we definitely don't like working fatalities,” Lt. Danny Jones. “By doing this one little thing it is hopeful that we curve a lot of what we have to deal with on a daily basis.”
Violating the hands-free law will be considered a Class C Misdemeanor and carries a $50 fine. However, the law states “if the violation is the person’s third or subsequent offense or if the offense results in an accident, the fine is $100.” If you’re caught holding a phone in a construction zone, the fine is automatically $200. An officer told Channel 3, after four tickets within one year and depending on the circumstance, a driver could lose their license.
According to the law, a driver cannot physically hold a phone or hands-free device with any part of their body. For example, making a phone call on speaker, while the phone rests in their lap would be considered illegal. A driver cannot record or broadcast videos while driving, nor can they reach for a phone/hands-free device in a way that removes the driver from a proper seated driving position or removes them from a seatbelt. In addition, using voice communication to write or send messages will also be considered illegal.
Drivers can use an headphones or Bluetooth to make calls or navigate GPS as long as the phone or device is mounted. However, the GPS must already be programmed before the driving. A driver will only be allowed to function calls or GPS as long as it requires “one swipe or tap of the driver’s finger.”
Drivers 18 and under
According to a law already in place, anyone 18 or younger with a leaner permit or intermediate driver license are restricted from and phone use unless it’s an emergency. Violators could face a $50 fine and “the driver shall be ineligible to apply for an intermediate or unrestricted driver license for an additional
(90) days from the time the driver would otherwise be eligible to obtain the license type.”
“We need them to start with good driving habits because that's ultimately what's going to keep our number down as far as traffic fatalities ad traffic crashes,” Lt. Jones said.
Change is never easy, but state troopers, county deputies and city officers say they are counting the community to do what is right.
“We've got to get back to the basics of driving; the true basics of driving,” said Lt. John Harmon with Tennessee Highway Patrol.