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With new year comes new laws

Posted on Sunday, December 31, 2017 at 8:38 am




Kelly Lapczynski


Sixteen new state laws will go into effect as the new year begins on Monday.

Here are the ones most likely to affect you:

Cellphones in School Zones

 Senate Bill 0954

Talking on handheld cell phones while driving in an active school zone becomes a Class C misdemeanor on Monday, punishable by a fine of up to $50. Exemptions apply to certain state and emergency personnel.

For adults over the age of 18, no offense is committed if the driver is using a hands-free device, but drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using mobile devices in any way while in an active school zone.

For minors, the offense is a delinquent act, not a misdemeanor, but is still punishable by a fine up to $50.

It remains illegal for all drivers to text while the vehicle is in motion.


Senate Bill 0194

Drivers of customized vehicles in Tennessee should check the color of their headlamps and daytime running lamps.

After Monday, only white or amber steady-burning (as opposed to flashing) lights will be permissible on the front of passenger vehicles.

Bulbs that emit white light – such as LED, xenon and halogen headlights – remain legal despite the fact they can appear blue. However, bulbs that emit blue light – or any color other than white or amber – are prohibited.

The only flashing lights allowed on the front of passenger vehicles are factory-installed emergency flashers.

Colored steady-burning lights or flashing lights in any combination of colors remain legal on the front of certain state, emergency and law enforcement vehicles, as well as on school buses and rural mail delivery vehicles.  There are also a handful of limited exceptions for special-purpose vehicles, including those used for organ procurement, licensed security services and funeral processions.

Handgun Permits

House Bill 0689

Applicants for a handgun carry permit who have successfully passed small arms qualification training or combat pistol training in any branch of the United States armed forces will be exempt from the firing range component of the permit’s required training.

Used Vehicle Recall Disclosure

House Bill 0141

Under the new Motor Vehicle Recall and Disclosure Law, auto dealers will be required to obtain recall reports on used vehicles and must complete all do-not-drive or stop-sale recall repairs before selling the vehicle.

If other safety recalls are found on the report, the dealer may sell the car without making the repair only if the consumer is provided a copy of the recall report and signs an agreement acknowledging the repair has not been made.

Campus Free Speech

Senate Bill 0723

The Campus Free Speech Protection Act requires Tennessee colleges to adopt policies that allow free expression and prohibit the creation of “free speech zones” that confine such expression to certain areas on campus.

Additionally, the law bans institutions from revoking invitations to speakers or withholding student activity fees to any student organizations based on its views.

Disabled Persons

Senate Bill 0597

Adults with functional disabilities or caregivers acting on behalf of a minor child or incompetent adult living with them are now able to direct and supervise paid, trained personal aides in the performance of health maintenance tasks that a capable adult would perform without the help of a licensed healthcare provider. Such tasks include, but are not limited to, personal hygiene and the administration of glucometer tests, eye drops or ear drops.

Alarm systems

House Bill 1392

A homeowner who must sell his or her home for a documented medical reason will be allowed to cancel an alarm services contract for a period longer than two years by giving 30 days written notice, but only after the initial two-year contract period is complete and a physician’s notice is provided.


Senate Bill 0032

A certified barber will be able to perform residential services to all clients, regardless of the client’s health.  Previously, barbers could perform residential services only to those who were ill. The law requires additional certification.

The new laws go into effect Jan. 1.

More information about any of these laws can be found on the Tennessee General Assembly website,