Tennessee Texting and Driving Law

Unfortunately, Tennessee is one of the worst states for car accidents caused by being distracted while driving or on their phone. This is why back in 2019, Tennessee instituted a ban on the use of handheld cell phones while driving. This ban, known as the Hands-free law, will prevent drivers from holding a cellphone or other electronic devices that can distract drivers.

What is the Hands-Free Law?

Tennessee Code 55-8-199 prohibits a driver from holding a cellphone with any part of their body, sending or reading text messages, reach for their phone that requires the driver’s body to leave the seat or no longer be restrained by the seat belt properly. Watching a video or movie on a cellphone and recording/broadcasting video on a cellphone is also prohibited.

There are a few exceptions to the hands-free law:

  • Single-swipe on a smartphone is okay; typing on a smartphone is not okay.
  • Using BlueTooth connected devices through voice command
  • GPS and dash cams are allowed to be used if mounted on the dashboard
  • Calling for 911 or any other type of emergency personally not being hands-free

Violating the hands-free law is considered a Class C misdemeanor. The first and second offenses will cost drivers $50 and $10 for court costs, with demerit points added to their record. The third and any other offenses will cost drivers $100, with demerit points added to their record. If drivers are in work zones or school zones when caught on their mobile devices, the fine will go up to $200, and will still receive demerit points on their driving record.

If a bus driver is caught not using a hands-free device, they are penalized much tougher by being charged with a Class A misdemeanor leading to a $100 fine, up to 30 days in jail, and being prohibited from operating a bus in Tennessee again. Police officers keep their eye out for drivers holding their devices in their hands, warning signs of distracted drivers like swerving, and are fully prepared to pull over drivers violating the law.

tennessee texting and driving law

Distracted Driver Auto Accidents

In 2021, there were 3,781 reported fatal car accidents; as of right now for 2022, there are already 3,639 Tennessee car accidents. Distracted driving deaths are often the most severe type of accident. Distracted driving in Tennessee can be categorized as more than just texting and driving; it can be listening to music too loudly, drunk driving, and having too many passengers in the vehicle.

New and experienced drivers all fall victim to distracted driving habits at one point or another, and the consequences of those actions are always fatal. Driving at high speeds while on your phone will cause your eyes not to be focused on the road and lose track of the other drivers around you. Teen drivers between the ages of 15 to 19 are more at risk of experiencing distracted driving situations and causing Tennessee car accidents.

Texting and driving among teen drivers are always very dangerous, especially when paired with having multiple passengers in their vehicle. The passengers could chat with the driver, show them things on the phone, and blast music. Setting a passenger limit for when your teen drives can help reduce potential distractions.

Unfortunately, social media platforms have become more easily accessible to view, scroll, and interact with, so it causes many teens to record themselves while driving. It is important to remind your teens that they should not be using their cell phones while driving.

About the Author

Michael Feiner
Michael Feiner

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Michael A. Feiner is a partner in the Fort Lauderdale office of Steinger, Greene & Feiner. Since being admitted to the Florida Bar in 2001, Michael has devoted his practice to representing plaintiffs throughout Florida in various tort and strict liability cases and has successfully litigated cases against national insurance companies, large public companies, and governmental agencies, resulting in tens of millions of dollars for his clients. He has handled all types of personal injury and wrongful death cases on behalf of plaintiffs, including automobile negligence, premises liability, medical malpractice, product liability, dog bites, and sexual harassment. Michael’s product liability case against Microsoft, as well as his representation of victims of sexual harassment and abuse by physicians, has garnered him important media attention at both the local and national levels. Michael is an experienced trial lawyer and successfully argued an appeal to the Fourth District Court of Appeal. In the reported decision Ortlieb v. Butts, 849 So.2d 1165 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003), Michael persuaded the Fourth District Court of Appeal that a directed verdict on liability was appropriate where the defendant did not rebut the presumption of negligence of a rear driver in a rear-end collision.