Lundberg, Hulsey file bill to exempt certain drivers from wireless prohibition

Hank Hayes • Jan 23, 2020 at 8:00 PM

Two Sullivan County lawmakers are spearheading legislation to exempt taxicab, limousine and transportation network company drivers from the prohibition on physically holding and using a wireless device while driving.

The bill was filed by state Sen. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, in addition to state Rep. Bud Hulsey, R-Kingsport.

Last year, state Rep. John Holsclaw, R-Elizabethton, passed a bill prohibiting using a wireless device while driving.

The prohibition, which went into effect last July, does not apply to law enforcement officers, emergency medical technicians and utility services provider employees.

A violation of this prohibition is a Class C misdemeanor, subject only to imposition of a fine not to exceed $50. However, if the violation is the person’s third or subsequent offense or if the violation results in an accident, the fine is $100; or if the violation occurs in a work zone when employees of the Tennessee Department of Transportation or construction workers are present or in a marked school zone when a warning flasher or flashers are in operation, the fine is $200.

Forty-eight states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. Twenty states and the District of Columbia ban the use of handheld wireless devices behind the wheel, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.