Drivers in Tennessee could face fines if they’re caught using hand-held cellphones behind the wheel as the new law took effect Monday.
The new distracted driving law makes it illegal to drive while holding or supporting a cellphone or mobile device with their bodies, with hands-free devices allowed. The law also bans reaching for a mobile device by getting out of a seated driving position or not correctly wearing a seatbelt.
A violation will be a class C misdemeanor, punishable by a $50 fine for a first offense, $100 for a third or higher offense or for causing a wreck, or $200 in active work or school zones. Drivers could still use hand-held devices if they are legally stopped or parked, or left their cars standing.
Tennessee joins 18 other states with hand-held cellphone use bans for drivers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The issue was fiercely contested in the Republican-led Legislature, with supporters calling the ban an important safety push and opponents calling it government overreach.
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