Our Nashville Car Accident Attorneys Explain the Dos and Don’ts of the New Law

The new Tennessee law that went into effect on July 1, 2019, bans drivers from using hand-held devices behind the wheel. Known as the “Hands-Free Law,” the new law is intended to help reduce the number of distracted driving accidents on the roadways that cause severe injuries and fatalities every day.

Distracted driving has become an epidemic in our state and continues to cause numerous accidents. In Davidson County alone, there have been 22,630 distracted driving-related crashes since 2009, according to the Tennessean

Hopefully, implementing a state-wide cellphone ban will help decrease the number of distracted driving accidents. 

To protect yourself and others on the roadways, it’s important to have a full understanding of what the new law entails. For this reason, our team of Nashville car accident attorneys at Mitch Grissim & Associates has provided everything you need to know about the Hands-Free Law. 

What Is the Hands-Free Law? 

The hand-held cellphone ban was first introduced by John Holsclaw, Jr., and was originally supposed to go into effect in the year of 2020. However, the bill passed the House with a vote of 53-38 on April 17, 2019, and the Senate with a vote of 23-7. Finally, the bill was signed by Governor Bill Lee. 

Before the bill was passed, cellphone usage while driving was allowed with the exception of texting. The only area where hand-held cellphone use was not authorized were school zones. With the new law in effect, school zones are not the only place that drivers are not allowed to hold a phone.

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3 Things You Need to Know   

Below are three things you should know about the Hands-Free Law:

1. Failure to obey the law can result in fines

If you violate the law, you may be fined at the following amounts according to Hands-Free Tennessee:

  • $50 = First-time offense 
  • $100 = Third-time offense or higher; violation results in a car crash 
  • $200 = Violation occurs in a work zone while workers are present; violation occurs in a marked school zone while flashers are in operation

2. Bluetooth is permitted

While you’re unable to hold your phone in your hands behind the wheel, you are allowed to make phone calls using Bluetooth. Additionally, GPS is permitted for navigation, as long as the device is mounted. 

3. The hand-held cellphone ban does not apply to everyone

There are expectations for the Hands-Free Law. Any law enforcement or emergency vehicle is not included under the law. Also, any driver that needs to contact an emergency services agency can use their phone with their hands, so long as it is a true emergency. 

“Hands-Free Tennessee” Campaign 

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To help raise awareness and educate residents about the new law, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security partnered with both the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. Through this partnership, the “Hands-Free Tennessee” campaign was launched. 

The campaign provides information and resources for the community, including what is legal and illegal under the new law.

What Is Illegal?

According to Hands-Free TN, it is illegal for drivers to do the following:

  • Hold a cellphone or mobile device with any part of their body. 
  • Write, send, or read 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 a video on a cellphone or mobile device. 

If you’re interested in reading the entire bill, click here. For more information about the campaign, visit the Hands-Free TN website

Call Mitch Grissim & Associates 

At Mitch Grissim & Associates, located in Nashville, Tennessee, we understand that distracted driving accidents can cause serious and life-altering injuries. While the new Hands-Free Law, hopefully, reduces the number of car wrecks on the roadways, accidents can still occur. For this reason, our Nashville car accident attorneys are here to help victims who have suffered injuries caused by negligent motorists obtain the compensation they are rightfully owed.

If you or a loved one experienced injuries after a motor vehicle accident that was not your fault, call our law firm at 615-255-9999, or fill out our free consultation form.