Tennessee Text Messaging and Cell Phone Laws

Tennessee law bans text messaging for all drivers; drivers with a learning permit or intermediate license may not use cell phones.

Except for novice drivers, there is no prohibition on cell phone use while driving in Tennessee. However, all Tennessee drivers are prohibited from texting.

Cell Phone Use

There is no handheld cell phone prohibition for drivers except that novice drivers in Tennessee - drivers with a learner's permit or intermediate license – are prohibited from using cell phones (handheld or hands-free) while driving.

Texting Laws

All drivers are prohibited from texting while driving. The ban on texting exempts certain officials - such as officers of the state, campus police officers and emergency medical technicians - when performing their duties.

Bus Drivers

Tennessee law prohibits school bus drivers from using cell phones while the bus is in motion and transporting children. As with all drivers, bus drivers are prohibited from texting while driving.


Violation of the texting law is punishable by a fine of up to $50 plus court costs not to exceed $10. Novice drivers who violate the law may be fined up to $100. Violators will also be ineligible to apply for an intermediate or unrestricted driver's license for an extra 90 days after they otherwise would have been eligible. Tennessee’s cellphone and texting laws are considered “primary” laws. A primary law means that an officer can pull you over for the offense without having to witness some other violation. That is, the officer sees you texting and issues a citation.

Other Tennessee Information

The links below provide additional information found on this website surrounding Tennessee driving laws.

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