Laws effective Jan. 1


 With the start of the new calendar year come new laws for those living – or traveling through – the state of Tennessee. Here’s a look at some of those laws and what you need to know about them.

SB0589 – Increased penalties for distracted driving

Also known as “Eddie Conrad Act”, this new law will increase the number of points assigned to the license of drivers caught texting and driving. Drivers under the age of 18 who are caught driving while distracted for a second time can have seven points assessed to their license. This is enough to cause them to have their license suspended for up to 12 months. Drivers over the age of 18 who are caught texting and driving will be charged with a Class C misdemeanor. In addition to texting, the bill applies to other distractions including holding a cellphone, reading, reaching for an electronic device, or using a phone/electronic device to record a video while driving.

SB0258 – GPS technology being added to car breathalyzers

Any ignition interlock device installed after January 1, 2024, will now be required to include GPS technology. Ignition interlock device is defined as a device that connects a vehicle’s ignition system to a breath-alcohol analyzer and prevents the vehicle from starting if the user’s blood alcohol level exceeds the calibrated setting on the device. With the new GPS technology, the device can assign a geographical location whenever the test is administered – or should it detect that the interlock device has been circumvented.

SB0360 – Offsetting the cost of firearm safety courses

This law will allow the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security to create a voucher program that will offset the cost of people taking a firearm safety course for the first time. The law will allow the department of safety to use the $100 handgun carry permit application and processing fee to reimburse up to $30 per person to an approved handgun safety school. The law will also require the department to post information on approved handgun safety training courses available throughout the state on its website. This voucher program is only good for one year and will expire on January 1, 2025.

SB0814 – Assisting inmates in post-release employment

This law requires the Tennessee Department of Corrections to provide documentation that will assist in obtaining employment to inmates being released after serving time for a felony. This could include providing a photo identification license for anyone who does not have one, copies of their work record, proof of vocational training, a copy of their birth certificate, and a social security card among other things. The new bill will require the state’s department of correction to begin gathering required documentation nine months before an inmate’s planned release date.

SB0722 - “Abrial’s Law, The Keeping Children Safe from Family Violence Act”

This law will prohibit a parent in a child custody proceeding from being penalized for making a good faith complaint about domestic violence or child abuse. However, it also ensures that a court cannot remove a child from a parent inf the parent has been proven to be competent, protective, and not physically or sexually abusive. The bill also requires the court to award full custody to a parent if they have been proven to be safe while finding probably cause of domestic violence or child abuse with the other parent. It also requires judges involved in child custody proceedings to complete a minimum of two hours of training on domestic violence and/or child abuse per year or ten hours every five years.

SB0856 - “James ‘Dustin’ Samples Act”

This law will provide support for firefighters diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. The new law will establish a grant program to help with the cost assigned to an employer providing worker’s compensation payments for firefighters facing PTSD diagnoses.        


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