On the books

Posted 10/24/17


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On the books



In last week’s article, I spoke about the dangers of distracted driving. It is a fact that impaired and distracted driving play a part in many accidents, injuries and fatalities in Tennessee.

I wanted to focus on just a few of the laws that are “on the books” in Tennessee that either directly or indirectly have to do with the operation of a motor vehicle. Some of these laws were enacted fairly recently, while others have been on the books for quite some time. These laws often are simply “laws of common sense.” Let us look at some of the laws your Bradley County Sheriff’s Office is mandated to enforce. They are found in the Tennessee Code Annotated, the “book of laws” of our State.

First, we discussed distracted driving last week. Texting and driving is illegal in Tennessee for all drivers. Put your phone down while behind the wheel. Officers all across our state report accidents caused by the distraction of texting. While you are glancing at your phone, your car can, in some instances, roll the length of a football field! I know that sounds amazing, but studies have shown it to be true. Another law that is designed to save the lives of law enforcement officers, first responders, wrecker operators, citizens and others is the so-called Move Over Law. Spurred on by the terrible deaths and injuries on the interstates and other roadways, this law is yet another piece of common sense legislation. It mandates drivers to move over when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle with visual emergency lights activated. Drivers are required to yield the right of way to the vehicle by moving into the closest available lane from the emergency vehicle, whenever possible. When the roadway does not provide an additional lane, drivers are required to slow down and provide as much space as possible to protect emergency vehicle operators in action. Any extra layer of safety for those who work on our roadways is valuable.

Another state law has been in force for many years, that being the Seat Belt Law. Tennessee is a primary Safety Belt state. Drivers are required to wear safety belts at all times when operating a motor vehicle in Tennessee. Drivers are also responsible for ensuring that all passengers are belted in. The child restraint law in our state further says all children must be secured in approved car seats. Nobody is allowed to be seated in a moving car or truck in Tennessee without some sort of safety device. I am pleased to say your Bradley County Sheriff’s Office is available to assist citizens who might have a problem obtaining the necessary car seats for a child. Deputies now have child booster seats in some patrol cars, and on hand elsewhere, making it easier to transport children in certain situations, or to provide to the public when a seat is needed and not readily available. These are the Mifold portable grab-and-go booster seats. They are 10 times smaller than and just as safe as a regular booster seat. Ask a deputy about the process to obtain one of these safety car seats, as they truly are a lifesaver! Another in our short list of traffic laws is one where all drivers are required to obey speed limits at all times, especially when workers are in a construction zone. Violators are subject to a minimum $250.00 fine. To me, this is just another of those “common sense” laws.
Finally, here is a part of the Tennessee Code Annotated that every driver should be very familiar with, and obey every time you get behind the wheel. Our state has one of the toughest Driving Under the Influence laws in the nation. The law states individuals are presumed to be under the influence of alcohol with a Blood Alcohol Concentration of .08 percent. First time offenders are subject to a $350 minimum fine and 48 hours in jail. Vehicle towing and storage is also charged to offenders. Enhanced penalties and sanctions will result if the BAC is greater than the legal limit or if children are present at the time of arrest. I’ve said it before: A fine and jail time are far better than losing your life in a drunk-driving accident, or taking the life of another person. Expect to spend up to thousands of dollars in fines, costs and legal fees even after your first DUI, not to mention jail time.

We are nearing one of the busiest times of the year, the holiday season. Halloween is Tuesday, so watch out for the little ghosts, goblins and other youngsters as they “prowl” for candy and goodies. Please be extra careful as we wrap up October and head toward November, Thanksgiving and Christmas!


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