New TN Law Restricts Cell Phone Usage

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Starting in just a few days, a new law is going into effect and it’s expected to keep your children safe in school zones.

January 1st, you may see more signs just like the one outside of Middle Valley Elementary, because new legislation is making every school zone a no phone zone.

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New legislation says it’s illegal to talk on your cell phone while riding through a school zone if these lights are flashing.

“I don’t like to see people on the phone I can better accept the handsfree. The concentration is still divided.”

Captain Charles Lowery Jr. works for the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and has done so for more than 40 years.

Captain Lowery says the last thing someone needs to do is drive distracted in these school zones.

“It’s very long overdue. I think that the state of New York allows people to use like an earbud and you can’t even be holding a phone while you are driving… if my intrepretation of that law is correct. I wish they had done that in Tennessee a long time ago, but this is a start..”

And Lowery says there are no excuses.

“Ignorance of the law is no excuse. They are going to get mad at the police officers when these tickets are written, but it’s going to get done”

Capain Lowery says that this is also a good time to remind new drivers of changes in the law like this one. It is one of more than a dozen changes going into effect in the state in the new year.

The full law reads, “Criminal Offenses – As enacted, creates the Class C misdemeanor, punishable only by a fine of up to $50.00, 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; makes it a delinquent act, punishable only by a fine of up to $50.00, for a person under the age of 18 to operate a motor vehicle and talk on a mobile phone that is equipped with a hands-free device while the vehicle is in motion; creates certain exceptions. – Amends TCA Title 55, Chapter 8.”