TN Hands Free Law

TN Hands Free Law went into effect on July 1, 2019.

Drivers are prohibited from holding or physically supporting a phone while driving. Hands-free devices will be allowed, including "earpieces, headphone devices or a device worn on a wrist to conduct a voice-based communication," the legislation says. Dashboard mounts will also be allowed.

Amateur radio equipment is exempt from this law, however some amateur radio operators have reported that they have been stopped and issued a citation for violating the new law.

The information below has been sent out by TN ARES detailing the exemption of amateur radio equipment from the TN hands free law. All amateur radio operators in TN are encouraged to print the information below and keep it in their vehicle.


On 1 July 2019 a new law was passed by the Tennessee Congress to prohibit the use of hand held devices.

As you will see in the information below and in the link to the newly enacted law, many types of devices including Amateur "Ham" Radio Mobile Devices are specifically exempt.

Over the next couple of days we will work to get distribution to all County EMA Directors, TEMA THP and Local Law Enforcement to comply with the intent of the law as some Amateur Operators have already been stopped for using their equipment in Mobile configuration because of this Law.

Please bear with us as we disseminate this information Section Wide in Tennessee. The following is a formatthat we Will be asking help to follow through with local EMA director to apprise Local Law Enforcement in their Counties while we look for assistance to provide information to State Law Enforcement Agencies across the Tennessee Section.

Tennessee recently enacted Public Chapter Law 412 to promote traffic safety and restrict the use of Wireless telecommunications devices while driving in Tennessee. This new law maintains several of the exemptions which were present in the prior version that applied only to school zones.

To aid in enforcement, we are requesting you share these exemptions with your County’s Law Enforcement agencies to empower Officers to better enforce the new law. With these exceptions in hand, Officers will be able to accurately enforce the new provisions and avoid generating citations which would later be dismissed due to the exceptions.

Section 1(a)(3): Wireless telecommunications device does not include:

· Radio

· Citizens Band Radio

· Citizens Band Radio Hybrid

· Commercial two-way radio communication device or its functional equivalent

· Subscription-based emergency communication device

· Prescribed medical device

· Amateur or ham radio device

· In-vehicle security, navigation, autonomous technology or remote diagnostics

These devices were expressly exempted from the new law. We look forward to continuing our ARES partnership together in supplementing the County EMA’s communication needs.

This is the link to the newly enacted Tennessee Bill as passed into Law:

We encourage you to make a copy of this notice in the interim and carry it with you in the event that you may be asked to provide information to show why you should not be cited.

Thank You for all you do for Amateur Radio in Tennessee. This applys to all Amateurs, Not just ARES Personnel.


ARRL Tennessee Section
Section Manager: Keith E Miller Sr, N9DGK