MARYVILLE, TENNESSEE – Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong would like to remind citizens that the Tennessee Hands Free law IS the law, and sheriff’s deputies are doing their part to assure citizens stay safe while traveling Blount County’s roadways.
“The Tennessee Hands Free law went into effect in July 2019,” Sheriff Berrong said. “During the first few months the law was in effect, deputies saw a decrease in the number of people texting and driving, but over the past couple years some drivers seem to have forgotten that it is against the law to hold your cell phone while driving. We are seeing a notable increase in the number of drivers not obeying this law.”
As a reminder, below are the specifics of Public Chapter No. 412, Tennessee Hands Free Law. It makes it illegal for a driver to:
(a) Hold a cell phone or mobile device with any part of the body,
(b) Write, send, or read any text-based communication,
(c) Reach for a cell phone or mobile device in a manner that requires the driver to no longer be in a seated position or properly restrained by a seatbelt,
(d) Watch a video or movie on a cell phone or mobile device, and,
(e) Record or broadcast a video on a cell phone or mobile device.
A violation of this law is a Class C misdemeanor, with fines as follows:
• $50 first time
• $100 third time offense or higher, or where the violation results in a crash
• $200 if the violation occurs in a work zone while workers are present, or if the violation occurs in a marked school zone while flashers are in operation
Hands-free devices are allowed, including earpieces, headphone devices, or a device worn on the wrist to conduct a voice-based communication. Dashboard mounts are also allowed.
“Distracted driving is a problem in Blount County and Tennessee,” Sheriff Berrong said. “In 2019 there were more than 23,000 crashes involving distracted driving in Tennessee. Our ultimate goal is not to penalize drivers who do not obey this law, but rather to prevent crashes and save lives.”