Driving while using cell-phone ban and online sports betting bill to become laws July 1st in TN

Local In TN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Tennesseans will soon be able to make sports bets online, but they will face fines if caught driving anywhere while holding a cell phone. Both bills were part of a day that signals the end is near for this legislative session. 

The so-called “hands-free bill,” which makes it illegal to use a cell-phone if you are driving, would take effect July 1st. The measure makes allowances for those over 18-years-old to use a hands-free cell-phone device while driving but bans them for drivers under 18.

“We have responsibility as a body to do what is necessary for the public good,” said Senate sponsor Art Swann before the measure passed 23-7.

The “hands-free” bill previously passed the House. Governor Bill Lee indicated Tuesday he would sign the bill when it got to his desk.

First time violators of the so-called “hands-free” cell phone driving bill would face a $50 fine. Second time offenders for using a cellphone while driving face a $100 fine. Those who use a cellphone while driving in a highway construction or school zone would be fined $200. 

Then there’s a very different bill headed to the governor.

Online sports betting will be legal in Tennessee starting July 1st. The House passed it last week, the Senate followed Tuesday by a 19-12 margin.

Supporters have long said that several billion dollars in sports gambling leaves Tennessee yearly for casino gambling in neighboring states. 

They estimate at about $50-million yearly the revenue for state coffers from those who make the online sports bets while on Tennessee soil.

Shortly after the bill passed, Governor Lee indicated he would let the bill become law without his signature. 

He has expressed opposition to online sports betting during his 2018 campaign for the governor’s office. 

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