Host of new Tennessee state laws on the books as of July 1

Local News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – ( – There are nearly 150 new laws taking effect in Tennessee starting July 1.

One of the most talked about new laws is hands-free cell phone use while driving. You cannot dial numbers or check emails or text messages, or hold your phone in your hand, while behind the wheel.

Drivers are allowed to use an earpiece, headphones, or wrist device to talk on the phone while driving. Breaking this law could cost you $200 bucks. Fines double in school and construction zones.

Another new state law says gambling online is okay but still illegal in physical locations.

The March Madness and Fantasy Football Freedom Act goes into effect, meaning you can place legal bets on your favorite team or sports league under certain circumstances.

The death penalty process can seem to take a lifetime for victim’s families seeking justice.

A new law would speed up that process by sending death penalty cases directly to the Tennessee Supreme Court for review and skipping the Court of Criminal Appeals step.

Another new law helps convicted criminals start over with a clean slate. They won’t have to pay hundreds of dollars to get their record expunged as long as they complete a diversion program. It’s all part of Tennessee’s criminal justice reform effort.

One bill that’s a big talker has the LGBTQ community lashing out at lawmakers. The new law redefines a “public place” to prohibit indecent exposure as being in locker rooms, restrooms, dressing rooms, or showers designated for multi-person, single-sex use. Critics claim the law targets transgender people.

A federal judge has temporarily blocked a Tennessee law that requires online auctioneers to be licensed, but it doesn’t affect some big auction sites like eBay. The block will be in place until at least July 11.

Great news for youngsters out there selling lemonade this summer. They don’t have to have a permit or license or pay a fee to open a lemonade stand as long as you’re a kid under 18, your stand is on private property with the owner’s permission, and you don’t make more than $3,000 a year.

New Tennessee legislation will increase pay supplements for police and firefighters by $200 dollars, provide new equipment and more training, plus help protect elderly and disabled citizens by strengthening penalties against people who harm them. Also, active duty firefighters who die from certain cancers or medical conditions will be considered a line-of-duty death.

A new law will now extend the statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases so victims will have more time to pursue legal action. The new law also strengthens penalties against people who don’t report child abuse.

The next new law clarifies that a marriage license cannot be issued to a kid younger than 17. It also defines “parent” for the purpose to give legal consent that a minor can get married.

Another new Tennessee law addresses traffic safety. It prohibits anyone from loitering or conducting business in or close to the median of a state highway. Anyone who is caught breaking this law will get a warning ticket, the first time.

There’s also a new state law regarding drones. It prohibits dropping items or anything from a drone into an “open-air” event venue where more than a hundred people are gathered.

Something else interesting to note. Electric scooters, like the ones you see in Midtown and Downtown, are now considered motor vehicles when it comes to driving under the influence. That means you can get a DUI for scooting while drunk.

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