New Hands Free Driving Laws In Tennessee: Important Reminders

New Hands Free Driving Laws In Tennessee: Important Reminders

Jay Stillman

2 min read

Distracted driving continues to be a huge problem not only in Tennessee but nationwide as well. As we recently reported, driving-related fatalities have increased over 9% during a five-year period, which can be attributed to the sharp rise in smartphone use behind the wheel. In fact, there were over 1,400 fatalities from 2015 to 2017 nationwide and Tennessee was cited as one of the worst states in the country for distracted driving. As a result, laws have been constantly adjusting in an attempt to curb the rise in accidents, injuries and deaths.

Cellphone Use While Driving is Now Against The Law In Tennessee

In one of the most sweeping distracted driving legislative changes to date, effective July 1, 2019, cellphone use while driving is now against the law in Tennessee and offenders can be fined up to $200 for simply using their phones behind the wheel.

Tennessee Hands-Free Law Details

According to the Tennessee Hands-Free Law (Public Chapter No 412) it is now illegal for drivers to do the following:

  • Hold a mobile device with any part of their body, which includes cheek to shoulder use
  • Write, send, or read any text-based communication
  • Reach for a cellphone or mobile device in a manner that requires a 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, or
  • Record or broadcast video on a cellphone or mobile device

Tennessee Hands-Free Law Exceptions

The law does allow exceptions, which include:

  • The use of hands-free accessory devices, which include earpieces, headphones, or a device worn on one’s wrist
  • Dashboard mounts, commonly used by Uber and Lyft drivers
  • Using a phone to make a handheld emergency call

Tennessee is the 19th state to ban handheld cellphone use while driving. And while the new laws may seem a bit harsh, they are for the benefit of everyone involved, including passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians. An easy solution for most drivers would be to invest in a cell phone mount for under $20, which is much less than the fines and hassles associated with getting pulled over for violating the new law.

For more information about the new Tennessee hands-free legislation, including the bill in its entirety, visit

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