Tennessee drivers are now expected to be 100 percent hands-free at the wheel starting July 1.
The new law makes it illegal for drivers to hold cell phones or mobile devices with any part of their body while they are driving.
Those who violate the new law will receive a traffic citation and a fine of up to $50 for first and second time offenses. First time offender, in lieu of fine, may be allowed to take a driving course.
If the violation results in an accident, it’s also a $100 fine. If the violation occurs in a work zone with workers present or school zone, it becomes a $200 fine.
The new law does not prohibit the use of Bluetooth, headphones or smartwatches. Text-to-speech, Siri (and other mobile voice assistance services) and voice-based communications are still allowed, as long as the driver is 18 years or older. Drivers are still allowed to press one button to initiate or terminate a call.
This law does not prohibit communications during emergency situations.
“We certainly want to encourage everyone to comply with the law,” said Manchester Police Department’s Major Bill Sipe. “The Manchester Police Department wants to encourage all river to remain perceptive and visually aware of their environment while operating a motor vehicle. We especially ask that each driver be particular attentive in our city school zones, as most children are so preoccupied with being just that – a child – and don’t become a driver statistic.”