Police on the lookout as Hands-Free Law takes effect
Put down the phone and put your eyes on the road. East Ridge Assistant Police Chief Stan Allen says officers are watching.
“We’re always out actively looking for traffic violations. And this is new and we can tell from the numbers that it's something that needs to be curtailed,” Allen said.
This comes with the start of Tennessee’s new hands-free law on July 1st. The law says drivers can't hold their phone with any body part while driving, and any calls made in the car must be hands-free.
“Do the research, get a Bluetooth or a hands-free device,” Allen said.
Still, local police departments and sheriffs’ offices say they understand this is a big change. Some, like East Ridge, will be giving drivers a grace period.
“For the first couple of weeks we will be issuing verbal warnings for the new hands-free law,” Allen said.
East Ridge isn't alone. The Chattanooga Police Department and Signal Mountain Police Department will be giving drivers a 30-day grace period.
Officials with those departments say it’s discretionary. You could still get a ticket, especially if you cause an accident, so it’s better not to risk it.
“Take advantage of it by realizing that that's the law,” Allen said. “Holding the phone is now against the law. And hopefully, it won't take getting stopped and getting a warning for them to stop."
Not all departments are going to be using grace periods. Bradley County says that this is the law of the state now, and they plan to enforce it right away.
As Chief Williams of Signal Mountain told Channel 3, love the law or hate it, it starts now.