New Tennessee law makes it illegal to hold phone while driving

Distracted Drivers will be cited is Hands Free Bill passes.
Distracted Drivers will be cited is Hands Free Bill passes.(WECT)
Updated: Jul. 1, 2019 at 4:30 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Tennessee Highway Patrol Sergeant Chris Richardson says they see people on their phones while driving all the time.

As of July 1, it’s illegal for you to touch your phone while driving.

"This can be fixed and it’s going to be fixed through this law,” said Richardson.

The new hands-free law requires drivers to put down the phone and focus on the road.

"There’s nothing that says you can’t talk on your phone, but it has to be through your Bluetooth device whether it’s through your headset or radio or they can simply use the phone speaker,” said Richardson.

Here’s what you can’t do:

  • Hold a cell phone or mobile device with any part of your body while driving.
  • Send, write or read any messages.
  • Reach for a device in a way that requires the driver to no longer be in a seated position or properly restrained by a seat belt.
  • Watch a movie or video.
  • Record or broadcast video.

"I think it’s wonderful. I think it’ll cut down on the texting also,” said Memphis driver Sherrie Bah.

We spoke to Memphis drivers about the new law. Some were in favor of it.

"I see people texting. I see people with their phone up to their ears talking. It’s extremely dangerous because it takes away from what you’re doing,” said Bah.

Others were still unsure.

“It’s going to be like it’s always been. There’s a cop, let me put down my phone. It’s going to be hard to even prove that that happened,” said Memphis driver Justin Ware.

Richardson says they’ll issue tickets and enforce the new law. It’s a Class C misdemeanor if you get caught and fines range from $50 to $200.

“Just stop your car at a safe location. A gas station, rest area, wherever and just send that text. Make that phone call and get back on the road,” said Richardson.

The hands-free law is just one of more than 100 that went into effect Monday in Tennessee.

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