On July 1, 2019, a new distracted driving law goes into effect for the state of Tennessee.

This Hands-Free Tennessee law prohibits people from holding a cell phone while driving. Since Tennessee is one of the states with the highest number of distracted driving deaths, this law will hopefully reduce this statistic.

What do you need to know about the new law? In this post, we will discuss the basics of the new law so you are prepared as it goes into effect next month.

The Basics

The Hands-Free driving law goes into effect on July 1, 2019.

This law makes it illegal for drivers 18 and up to hold or physically support a phone while driving. Tennessee already has a law that prevents younger drivers from texting or using a phone while driving.

What You Need to Know

Let’s take a closer look at the specifics of the new Hands-Free law. Under the new law, drivers may not:

  • Hold or support a cell phone with any part of their body
  • Send, write, or read a text message
  • Grab or reach for a cell phone in a way that would no longer allow the driver to be seated
  • Watch a movie or video on a cellphone
  • Record or share a video on a cellphone

What is Allowed

Although cell phone use is almost entirely banned under the new law, there are a few ways you can use your phone while driving.

  • If the phone is mounted to the dashboard, the driver can use the GPS for navigation.
  • Drivers can swipe or tap once on the phone to turn it on or off.
  • Hands-free communication and voice-to-text features are allowed.
  • This law does not apply if you need to contact authorities during an emergency.


When this law goes into effect on July 1, 2019, you could be fined for holding your phone while driving.

The first violation will result in a $50 fine. If the driver causes a wreck or it is their third violation, the fine is increased to $100. If the violation occurs in a school zone or in a work zone, the fine becomes $200.

Tennessee’s Distracted Driving Laws

In addition to the new Hands-Free law, Tennessee already has a few distracted driving laws in place. Texting while driving and holding your cell phone in a school-zone are already illegal in Tennessee.

Plus, all drivers on a learner’s permit or intermediate license are banned from using their cell phones while driving.

The new hands-free law is another step towards protecting Tennessee’s drivers. Tennessee is the 19th state to ban cell phone use while driving.

Why it Matters

In 2018, Tennessee saw 24,600 crashes involving a distracted driver.

A recent study revealed that from 2015-2017, Tennessee had the highest number of fatalities related to distracted driving in the country. The national average was 1.49 fatalities per 10 billion vehicle miles. Tennessee had 7.2 fatalities per 10 billion vehicle miles.

This new law aims to help keep Tennessee’s roads safer for all drivers and passengers.

If you have any questions about the new distracted driving law or another legal matter, please contact Perry H. (Chip) Windle III today.