We all know the old adage, practice makes perfect. Well, it is time to practice driving your car without touching your phone. Put it away, out of reach the second you place your vehicle in drive. The law, often referred to as Hands Free Tennessee, was put into place to reduce the number of deaths on the state’s roads and interstates resulting from distracted drivers.
Tennessee Penalty for Using Your Phone While Driving
As of July 1, 2019 phone use will be a Class C misdemeanor, a moving violation, and you will be subject to a fine and court costs. Tennessee law enforcement officers will be out enforcing this law.
Driver Phone Use
Our attorneys have read the entire contents of the law and it is not a simple prohibition of cell phone use while driving. The law is clear that you cannot hold it in your hand or support it with any part of your body while driving. This goes beyond just talking, texting, Googling, getting directions, or reading Facebook. The days of live video broadcasting from inside a moving vehicle are gone. No selfies, playing Candy Crush, taking pictures, or recording the scenery while rolling down the road are allowed any longer. This of course applies to all drivers whether they are residents, tourists, and those just passing through our state.
There are exceptions to this prohibition. They are very specific. If you mount the phone on the dashboard or other place inside the vehicle then it can be used, however, it cannot block your line of sight. GPS, Google Maps, Waze, and other directional apps are allowed.
Hands Free in Tennessee
If you go totally hands free, then you can talk on the phone. Talking on your Apple Watch is permitted as well. Activating or deactivating an Apple Watch with a single tap or finger swipe is also allowed, but you still must remain hands free.
Cell Phone Usage for Under 18
If you are under 18, you cannot use the phone for any purpose while driving. Parents need to be aware of this because they certainly do not want to cause their young driver children to get a ticket.
Penalties and Fines
First Time getting busted is going to cost you a moving violation and a fine of $50.00 plus court costs. You can get out of paying this if you elect to complete a driver education class.
If you are on the phone and you are involved in an accident, it will cost you at least $100.00 plus court costs. Same goes for your third ticket.
If you get busted in a school zone, construction zone, or where there are transportation workers present, you can expect a $200.00 fine. Ordering your Starbucks Coffee can wait.
If you have a bonafide emergency, then the use of the phone is allowed. An emergency is defined as an occurrence that threatens human life, health or property. Being stuck in traffic and calling your boss would not be such an emergency.
If you find yourself driving down the road and you have to use the phone, then pull over and lawfully park. Stopping in the breakdown lane on the highway is NOT lawfully parking. Neither is parking in a bike lane. To lawfully park, you need to be off the roadway.