Traffic Laws for Tennessee Visitors

While it may seem like traffic laws are the same everywhere, that is not always the case. When traveling out of state, it is important for drivers to know the laws of the area they will be in. Visitors are always welcome in Tennessee, however there are some laws here that drivers in other states may not be familiar with. Here, we review six driving-related laws that will help visitors to Tennessee.

1.      Texting While Driving Law – T.C.A 55-8-199

Distracted driving is dangerous driving. According to the CDC, approximately 9 people are killed and 1,000 injured each day in the US due to distracted driving behaviors. In Tennessee, it is illegal to text while operating a motor vehicle. This includes browsing social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and more. Data shows that there were nearly 24,000 total crashes caused by distracted driving behaviors in Tennessee during the latest reporting here.

2.      Seat Belt Law – T.C.A 55-9-603

Drivers in Tennessee must wear seatbelts while operating a vehicle and are responsible for ensuring that every passenger in the vehicle also has their seat belt on. Proper seat belt usage greatly reduces the chance of a driver or passenger sustaining a serious injury in the event an accident occurs.

3.      Handgun Carry Permit Law – T.C.A 39-17-1351

Many visitors coming to Tennessee may want to bring their handgun with them. Tennessee does allow out-of-state residents who legally possess handguns in their state to carry a handgun in Tennessee, but the TN laws take precedence. Tennessee has reciprocity with many other states in the country concerning handgun permits, but it is up to the handgun owner to ensure they know the laws before visiting.

4.      DUI Law and Penalties – T.C.A 55-10-401 & 55-10-403

Anyone found driving with a blood alcohol content of .08% or more can be arrested and charged with DUI. First-time DUI offenders face a minimum of 48 hours in jail and a penalty fee of $350, among other driving penalty suspensions that could occur in their home state. During the latest reporting year in this state, there were 5,668 total crashes caused by alcohol-impaired drivers. These incidents often result in severe injuries for drivers and passengers.

5.      Motorcycle Helmet Law – T.C.A 55-9-302

Motorcycle helmet laws vary from state to state. However, in Tennessee, all motorcycle operators must wear a helmet at all times. This includes any passenger on the motorcycle. Any helmet worn by a motorcyclist must meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards certified by the Department of Transportation. Motorcyclists involved in an accident have a much lower risk of sustaining a serious head or brain injury when they wear a helmet.

6.      Open Container Law – T.C.A 55-10-416

It is illegal to consume or possess an open container of alcohol inside of a vehicle while that vehicle is in operation. A person can face an open container charge even if they are not considered intoxicated based on Tennessee laws.

How often do car accidents occur in Tennessee?

According to data from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, there were over 200,000 car accidents during the latest reporting year across the state. Out of these incidents, there were 1,064 total fatalities and more than 48,000 injuries reported. No matter where you are from, it is important to understand that driving safely through the state requires understanding Tennessee laws. If you have additional questions about Tennessee traffic laws, reach out to our Nashville car accident lawyers.