Some say long overdue, Hands-Free Driving law takes effect

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Monday is July 1, which means there are new laws in effect that will directly impact everyone in Tennessee.

One law that's getting the most attention is the Hands-Free Driving law, which will now make for an expensive mistake for anyone in the state caught driving with a phone in-hand.

There are some exceptions to the law: you can still use your phone as long as you are not holding it with your hands or any other part of your body. The goal is to get drivers' attentions fully on the roads.

“We’re just going to be looking to make sure that phone is not in their hand, that they’re not using that phone, they’re not looking down at the phone," said Sergeant Chris Richardson from the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Troopers say too many accidents happen when drivers are distracted.

On the roads Monday, WREG spotted several drivers behind the wheel with their face buried in their phones.

Other drivers hope the new hands-free law will cut down on some of that.

“I think it’s a great idea," Bob Hammer said. "I’ve almost been in three or four wrecks with people talking on their phone, wandering everywhere. I think it’s a great idea. It should have happened sooner.”

“Oh all the time," Kelly Birmingham said. "People texting on their phone, not paying attention. Sitting at the red lights, texting.”

Tiffany Star said  no text is worth a life, and that’s why she’s been hands-free while driving for years.

“Texting and driving can wait," Star said. "I’m always hands-free. I try to live by example.”

Troopers hope others will do the same.

“The biggest thing is, together we can do this," Richardson said. "It’s an addiction to our phones that we have.”

If drivers don’t follow the new law, there’s an expensive price to pay.

“I think so, especially after they get one fine," Hammer said. "I’ve taken it seriously. I pull over, do my phone business and go on.”

There’s a $50 fine for the first offense, and it gets more expensive from there.

It’s important to note these are moving traffic violations, so drivers could get points against their licenses.

Click here for other new laws that took effect July 1.

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