KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Drivers on Tennessee roadways will have to put down their phones in less than two weeks. The state’s new hands-free law takes effect July 1.
The key to the new law comes down to is whether the car moving. If it is, Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers say you can’t touch your phone in any way, even balancing it on your shoulder.
“I think it’s going to be a hard one to follow at first, but in the long run it’s going to be a really good thing for all of us,” said driver Lisa McKay.
The new law makes it illegal for a driver to hold a cellphone, send a text or take a picture on a phone or mobile device.
“I think it’s a very good step in the right direction. It will just teach the future generation that it’s just a no no, you cannot get in your car and text or dial someone,” said McKay.
THP troopers say a driver can use technology like Bluetooth ear pieces or similar devices.
“The only thing is if you’re driving down the road and you receive a call, you are allowed to hit one button. One button to activate the call and one button to terminate the call,” said THP Lt. Don Boshears.
Troopers say you can wear headphones or earbuds and be within the law, but make sure you can still hear traffic around you.
“Leave the distractions alone. Just drive the vehicle,” added Boshears.
Boshears says the hands-free law is similar to our current texting law and it comes down to the car being in motion.
“By the law, if you are stopped at a red light you could make a quick call. Don’t recommend it because why? We have people who run stop signs all the time. We have people who run red lights all the time. The car coming up behind you may also be distracted,” he said.
If you have to make a call or text, troopers say find a safe place, like a parking lot, to pull over.
“Be prepared. Start making steps now to when July 1 comes you can drive and be hands free,” said Lt. Boshears.
If you’re cited for this violation:
- $50 – First-time offense
- $100 – Third-time offense or higher; violation results in crash
- $200 – Violation occurs in a work zone while workers present; violation occurs in marked school zone while flashers are in operation
There are exceptions. This law does not apply to certain people while working:
- Law enforcement officers
- Campus police and public safety officers
- Emergency first responders
- Firefighters, including volunteer firefighters
- Utility service employees or contractors
One more exemption, if you’re calling first responders in the case of a genuine emergency.
For more information about the hands-free cell phone law, you can click here.