New cell phone bill to take effect July 1 in Tennessee

New cell phone bill to take effect July 1 in Tennessee

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - When July 1st hits if you’re behind the wheel in Tennessee you cannot grab your phone with any part of your body.

Instead, you’ll have to use things like an earpiece or voice-based communication to answer phone calls.

“Any hand-held cellular phone or mobile device with any part of the body," Colonel Keith Watson with the Memphis Police Department said.

Drivers can’t talk, text or use social media while holding a phone if you’re behind the wheel.

“Those drivers will be ticketed or fined or even stopped and encountered by officers if they’re found in violation of this new law," Watson said.

Watson says Shelby County leads the way in the number of crashes related to distracted driving.

Crashes almost doubled from 2010 to 2011 and have continued to rise since.

“It’s kind of a hard habit for people to break, but hopefully it’ll have some impact," driving instructor Max Maxwell said.

He also says some people don’t realize how quickly things can happen if you’re distracted.

“Next thing you know someone’s pulling in front of you or someone’s walking out or a kid is darting out in front of you. You’re not going to see them," he said.

Under the new law, drivers also can’t watch a video or movie while driving or record or broadcast.

If they do, it’s a class C misdemeanor and you could be fined.

“We’re looking from a range of about $50 to $200 outside of any additional violations that are observed by those police officers at the time of the stop," Watson said.

The fines can also vary depending on if you’re in a work zone or school zone.

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