Is it illegal to text and drive in Tennessee?

| Sep 28, 2020 | Firm News |

Laws prohibiting texting and driving have become the norm all over the nation. These laws have also taken hold in Tennessee, which means law enforcement can cite drivers for certain behaviors.

Often referred to as Handsfree Tennessee laws, use of a mobile device behind the wheel can land you in hot water from a legal perspective. Distracted driving behaviors also increase the risk of an accident, which can harm distracted drivers as well as law-abiding motorists caught in their path.

Prohibited behaviors according to Handsfree Tennessee laws

Bill PC0412, which first took effect in 2019, prohibits a wide range of behaviors while driving. These include:

  • Watching videos on mobile devices
  • Recording a video using a mobile device
  • Holding a mobile device with any part of the body
  • Writing, sending or reading texts or emails
  • Reaching for a mobile device while driving

There are some exclusions to these laws. For example, you are permitted to use a mobile device in the manners described above if your vehicle is legally parked or stopped. You are also permitted to use such a device to call for help in the midst of a genuine emergency. Additionally, law enforcement and emergency personnel are permitted to use mobile devices in order to perform essential job duties.

Penalties drivers can face if caught breaking these laws

Any motorists caught engaging in prohibited behaviors can be convicted of a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine. Fines range from $50 for first offenses to $100 for third or subsequent offenses. Fines of $100 are also assessed if the distracted behavior results in a car crash.

Other circumstances will warrant a $200 fine, regardless of how many previous offenses the driver had on record. This includes being caught using a mobile device in a prohibited manner in a school zone marked with flashing lights, or exhibiting such behaviors in an active work zone.

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