Tennessee Telephones: What you need to know

Use of cell phones while driving is prohibited only for drivers holding intermediate licenses.
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However, due to increased incidents caused by distracted driving, the state vehicle code that prescribes drivers to "exercise due care" can now be applied to a driver operating a vehicle in an unsafe manner due to cell phone use, texting, or another activity related to a mobile electronic device. Also, penalties for drivers who cause injury or death to another driver, pedestrian, or bicycle rider when not exercising due care have been greatly increased (TN Code Sec. 55-8-136.
State law prohibits police from “searching, examining, extracting, or duplicating” data from a cell phone, even in connection with a lawful arrest, without a search warrant or the owner’s consent, except in cases of extreme urgency or when the phone has been abandoned (TN Code Sec. 40-6-109).
Texting, transmitting, or reading a message on a handheld cell phone or other electronic mobile device while operating a motor vehicle is prohibited (TN Code Sec. 55-8-19). Currently, violation of this law is considered a nonmoving violation.
The law does not apply to entering a phone number to make a call or entering an address into a navigation device.
A video monitor or television screen may not be installed in a vehicle where it can be viewed by the driver. This does not apply to vehicle information displays, navigation or global positioning displays, or systems that enhance the driver's view of the back or sides of the vehicle (TN Code Sec. 55-9-105
Reviewed January 2015

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