2017 Tennessee Code
Title 55 - Motor and Other Vehicles
Chapter 8 - Operation of Vehicles -- Rules of the Road
Part 1 - Operation of Vehicles -- Rules of the Road
§ 55-8-199. Prohibited uses of mobile telephone or personal digital assistant to transmit or read written message while driving.

Universal Citation: TN Code § 55-8-199 (2017)
  • (a) For the purpose of this section, unless the context otherwise requires:
    • (1) "Hands-free device" means a device that is designed to allow communication via mobile telephone or personal digital assistant without the necessity of holding the mobile telephone or personal digital assistant, such as a speakerphone or headset;
    • (2) "Mobile telephone" means a cellular, analog, wireless or digital device that provides for voice communication and for data communication other than by voice; and
    • (3) "Personal digital assistant" means a wireless electronic communication device that provides for data communication other than by voice.
  • (b)
    • (1) No person while driving a motor vehicle on any public road or highway shall use a hand-held mobile telephone or a hand-held personal digital assistant to transmit or read a written message; provided, that a driver does not transmit or read a written message for the purpose of this subsection (b) if the driver reads, selects or enters a telephone number or name in a hand-held mobile telephone or a personal digital assistant for the purpose of making or receiving a telephone call.
    • (2) It is a delinquent act for a person under eighteen (18) years of age to knowingly operate a motor vehicle on any road or highway in this state and use a mobile telephone or personal digital assistant that is equipped with a hands-free device to transmit or read a written message.
    • (3) This section does not prohibit a person eighteen (18) years of age or older from operating a motor vehicle on any road or highway in this state and using a mobile telephone or personal digital assistant that is equipped with a hands-free device to transmit or read a written message.
  • (c) This section shall only apply to a person driving a motor vehicle that is in motion at the time a written message from a mobile telephone or hand-held personal digital assistant is transmitted or read by the person.
  • (d)
    • (1) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor, subject only to imposition of a fine not to exceed fifty dollars ($50.00) and court costs not to exceed ten dollars ($10.00), including, but not limited to, any statutory fees of officers. No state or local litigation taxes shall be applicable to a case prosecuted under this section.
    • (2) In addition to any fine imposed pursuant to subdivision (d)(1), a person who violates this section as a first offense shall be required to attend and complete a driver education course pursuant to § 55-10-301.
  • (e) This section shall not apply to the following persons:
    • (1) Officers of the state or of any county, city or town charged with the enforcement of the laws of the state, when in the actual discharge of their official duties;
    • (2) Campus police officers and public safety officers, as defined by § 49-7-118, when in the actual discharge of their official duties;
    • (3) Emergency medical technicians, emergency medical technician-paramedics and firefighters, both volunteer and career, when in the actual discharge of their official duties;
    • (4) Emergency management agency officers of the state or of any county, city or town, when in the actual discharge of their official duties; and
    • (5) Persons using a mobile telephone or personal digital assistant 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.
  • (f) A traffic citation that is based solely upon a violation of this section shall be considered a moving traffic violation.
  • (g) The department of transportation is directed to utilize the department's permanent electronic overhead informational displays located throughout this state to provide periodic messages to the motoring public as to this section.
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