Tennessee ushered in more than 140 new laws a couple of days ago. A couple of attention-getting measures affect cell phone usage and a very particular form of drunk driving.
The new law likely to affect the greatest number of Tennesseans is the hands-free cell phone measure that aims to curb distracted driving. It is now a class C misdemeanor to hold your phone in your hand (or any other part of your body) while driving in the state. Fines for this new traffic offense start at $50.
Memphis Police Lt. Col. Keith Watson said, "since the year 2009, Shelby County leads the way in distracted driving reported crashes." He added that in those years, there have been more than 56,000 motor vehicle crashes in the county that were caused by distracted drivers.
Said Watson, “that fine increases if there is a crash that occurs in a work zone or a school zone” and that fines can also go up to $200 for second or third offenses.
It should be noted that under the new law, you can touch the phone one time to start or end a call, but that you must put your phone on speaker or use Bluetooth to have a conversation.
Watson also said Memphis police officers are already strictly enforcing the new law.
Another driving law that’s now in effect will mean that electric scooter riders who are in a crash after drinking alcohol will be charged with DUI.
Those who are facing a DUI charge or traffic violation should speak with an attorney experienced in effective criminal defense.