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New Tennessee Law Bans Phone Use While Driving

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Campbell County traffic violations defense attorney

The staggering amount of car accidents caused by distracted driving in Tennessee pushed lawmakers to institute a new law on July 1, 2019 that bans any kind of cell phone use while driving. Understanding this new law can help you avoid a costly ticket in addition to a serious crash. In some cases, the penalties for using your phone behind the wheel can carry costly fines and the loss of driving privileges. Regardless of the charges, it is critical that you present an aggressive defense to the court with the guidance of an experienced traffic violations attorney.

Distracted Driving Statistics in Tennessee

For the three years leading up to 2019, distracted driving by Tennessee motorists caused more than 24,000 crashes annually. Tennessee also had the highest fatality rate of any state for distracted driving in that time period. The national average was 1.49 fatalities per 10 billion vehicle miles, while Tennessee’s rate reached 7.2 deaths for that same mileage.

Details of Tennessee's Phone Ban 

In an effort to reduce or eliminate the number of fatalities caused by distracted driving, Tennessee joined 18 other states in 2019 by enacting a cellular phone ban for all drivers. Before this, the act of texting and driving was illegal, but the new law is designed to encourage drivers to not use their cell phones for any reason. Now, Tennessee drivers are no longer able to:

  • Hold a cell phone

  • Write, read, or send text messages

  • Reach to grab a mobile phone

  • Watch a video on a cell phone

  • Record video or take pictures on a phone

However, the law does allow drivers to take and end calls with the push of one button. Calls cannot be made while holding a phone, but if a phone is connected via Bluetooth or headset/headphones, calls can be made using those devices’ controls. 

Another important detail to remember is that holding one's phone to check navigation instructions is also illegal. Therefore, it is important to make sure a phone is properly mounted so that a driver does not have to search for it or pick it up when using it to navigate while driving. 

Penalties for Distracted Driving

Any driver found violating the above cell phone rules is subject to a fine ranging between $50 and $200. A ticket for distracted driving in Tennessee can also add demerit points to a motorist’s driving record. The punishments are more severe for school bus drivers who violate these traffic laws. They can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and face a minimum fine of $100 and up to 30 days in jail. In addition, they may be prohibited from operating a school bus in Tennessee ever again.

Contact a Jacksboro, TN Criminal Defense Lawyer 

Distracted driving is a leading cause of automobile accidents in Tennessee. This recent legislation is aimed at preventing crashes due to cell phone use. If you were not aware of the laws, and you or someone you know is at risk of losing your driver’s license, it is important to seek professional legal counsel. A trusted Campbell County traffic violations attorney is a necessity when fighting these types of charges. To learn how The Law Office of William Evans can assist you with your case, schedule a free consultation by calling us today at 423-449-7980.




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