Tennessee law bans holding cellphones while driving


Starting July 1, it will be illegal to hold a cellphone or mobile device while driving in Tennessee thanks to a new law.

The “Hands Free Law,” known as Public Chapter No. 412, makes it illegal for anyone to, while driving:

  • hold a cellphone or mobile device with any part of their body
  • write, send, or read any text-based communication
  • reach for a cellphone or mobile device in a manner that requires the driver to no longer be in a seated driving position or properly restrained by a seat belt
  • watch a video or movie on a cellphone or mobile device
  • record or broadcast on a cellphone or mobile device

Violating the law is a Class C misdemeanor. The penalties are $50 for a first-time offense, $100 for a third-time offense or higher or if the violation results in a car crash, and $200 if the violation occurs in a work zone while workers are present or occurs in a marked school zone while flashers are in operation.

Drivers are still permitted to stream music that doesn’t include videos on the screen of the phone or mobile device, but they cannot touch the phone to activate or program the music while driving. Drivers may use an earpiece, headphone device, or device worn on the wrist for voice-based communication. They may use one button on the phone or mobile device to turn voice communication on or off.

Drivers may still hold and use cellphones or mobile devices during an emergency to contact and communicate with emergency services.