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New cell phone laws regarding school zones in Tennessee goes into effect Jan. 1st

We’ve heard about the law for a while now, and it officially goes into effect statewide in Tennessee on January 1, 2018. A new state law that makes it illegal for drivers to talk on a handheld cell phone (with device in hand) in an active school zone. And the law goes even further for drivers under the age of 18.

This isn’t just sending or reading texts (which is already illegal and punishable while driving on any road…at any time in the state) — but talking on a phone that’s held in your hand.

The law states that it’s an offense — Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $50 — for a person to knowingly operate a motor vehicle in any marked school zone in this state, when a warning flasher or flashers are in operation, and talk on a hand-held mobile telephone while the vehicle is in motion.

However, the offense is not committed if the telephone is equipped with a hands-free device, for drivers 18 years of age and older. A driver under age 18, however, is breaking the law talking either using a hands-free or handheld phone while driving through an active school zone. So young motorists will need to end those phone calls regardless of whether or not they’re using a hands-free device before entering active school zones.

State Sen. Jim Tracy, who sponsored the legislation with state Rep. John Holsclaw, said constituents and law enforcement have said they “don’t think that anybody ought to be using a handheld cell phone during an active school zone.”

Tracy said lawmakers contemplated pushing legislation that outlawed driving while talking on a handheld phone completely during the past legislative session. However, the state senator said like-minded legislators are waiting for persuasive feedback.

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