Ask Isaacs: Can Knoxville police enforce the hands-free driving law?

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A new state law is already causing confusion. Memphis city police say they can’t issue citations just yet to enforce the hands-free driving law that went into effect on Monday.

The law says you’re not allowed to use your phone while driving unless it’s hands-free and mounted, but the city of Memphis says there’s not a city ordinance so they can’t issue tickets.

WATE 6 On Your Side legal analyst Greg Isaacs says the state passed the law because of an epidemic of distracted driving in Tennessee. There were over 25,000 accidents in 2018, more than five times the national average.

More: What you need to know about Tennessee’s Hands Free Law

Isaacs says he spoke with a judge who said Knoxville also needs an ordinance for tickets to be written by the police department, but they can write citations for distracted driving in the interim. The tickets could go to general sessions court, but Isaacs says that would likely lead to a backlog.

The Knoxville Police Department says they don’t yet know exactly how many citations they’ve issued so far.

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