Tennessee House advances hand held phone ban while driving; bill moves to Senate

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A victory for State Representative John Holsclaw of Elizabethton as the “handsfree bill” passed the House floor for the first time.

“After a long hard battle and debate on the floor, it’s relieving and I am elated,” Holsclaw said.

Years back, Rep. Holsclaw successfully passed a cell phone use ban for drivers in school zones. This new bill would ban anything but the hands-free use of a cell on any street or highway in the state. Holsclaw’s bill would mandate cell phones be either mounted or bluetooth activated.

If caught violating the hands free policy, Tennessee residents would get a ticket and a fine.

“Fines for this particular legislation is fifty dollars for your first offense, and on your third offense it goes up to one hundred dollars,” Holsclaw said.

The same offense could be up to two-hundred dollars, if caught using a phone while driving a work zone.

Holsclaw also addressed the criticism the bill has recieve, which compare cellphone usage to any other distraction in the car. He says the bill focuses on the use of cell phones becuase everyone has a cell phone, unlike other distractions such as using the radio or eating while driving, which vary from car to car.

While the majority of members were on board, most of the Northeast Tennessee delegation voted no.

“What I am saying is I don’t think we out to take the liberty away from those who do it right to go after folks who don’t,” said Representative Bud Husley of Kingsport. 

“Ladies and gentleman the question is do we need a duplicative law that could very easily have your license restricted and suspended,” said Representative Mattew Hill of Jonesborough.

The bill now moves to the senate and Holsclaw says spoken to many senators and he is optimistic the bill will live.

“So we feel that we’ve got enough votes for it to pass in the senate,” said Holsclaw. “I’m 99 percent sure.”

The bill passed the house in a 53-38 vote, recieving a lot of opposition from some fellow republicans from Northeast Tennessee.

State Representatives Bud Hulsey, John Crawford, Micah Van Huss, Matthew HIll, Timothy Hill and David Hawk all voted against the bill.

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