What You Need to Know About the “Hands Free Law”


A new law banning drivers from holding their phones while driving goes into effect Monday, July 1. The law has become known as the “Hands-Free Law” and here’s what you need to know.

What is the Tennessee Hands-Free Law?

It is illegal for a driver to:

  • Hold a cellphone or mobile device with any part of their body,
  • Write, send, or read any text-based communication,
  • Reach for a cellphone or mobile device in a manner that requires the driver to no longer be in a seated driving position or properly restrained by a seat belt,
  • Watch a video or movie on a cellphone or mobile device, and
  • Record or broadcast video on a cellphone or mobile device.

What about emergency situations?

A driver is permitted to use a cellphone or other wireless telecommunications device to communicate with law enforcement agencies, medical providers, fire departments, or other emergency service agencies while driving a motor vehicle, if the use is necessitated by a bona fide emergency, including a natural or human occurrence that threatens human health, life, or property.

Can I talk on the phone while driving?

A driver is permitted to use an earpiece, headphone device, or device worn on a wrist to conduct voice-based communication. The driver may use one (1) button on a cell phone or mobile device to initiate or terminate voice communication. Voice-based communication may also be used to send a text message.

What are the penalties?

Violation of this law is a Class C misdemeanor. A traffic citation based on this violation is considered a moving traffic violation. Fines for violations of the law include:

  • $50 = First-time offense
  • $100 = Third-time offense or higher; violation results in a car crash
  • $200 = Violation occurs in a work zone while workers are present; violation occurs in a marked school zone while flashers are in operation

Learn more

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security is partnering with the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development to launch “Hands Free Tennessee.” The purpose of this campaign is to educate Tennesseans about the state’s new “Hands Free Law.” Learn more here.