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The New Year Means New Driving Laws


Each new year brings new laws that drivers should be aware of before they take to the road. This year is no different and there are new laws in effect as of January 1st. Drivers should remember that ignorance of these is not an excuse to disobey them.

Seatbelt Fines Increased

Starting now, the fine for driving without wearing a seatbelt is $25 for a first offense, and $50 for a second offense. The state intends to use the funds generated from these fines to assist individuals seriously injured in auto accidents. It's estimated that these fines will generate an extra $750,000 per year for this. The state has increased these fines to make up for the loss of revenue from traffic cameras that are being phased out. This will take years to be completed, however, legislators are planning for it now by increasing fines for other offenses.

Hit-&-Run Penalities Enhanced

Penalties have been increased for fleeing the scene of automobile accidents. Individuals who knowingly flee an accident scene will be subject to a 1-year suspension of their drivers license. This is a serious problem that traffic accident lawyers in Tennessee see regularly. In 2009, there were 16,600 hit and run accidents in Tennessee; Nearly 1/3 of these occurred in Shelby County. Since then, legislators have increased penalties and enforcement. This new law is the most recent change intended to combat the crime.

Ankle Bracelets for DUI's

If an individual is convicted of DUI, or has been involved in an accident while intoxicated, the courts can now order that they wear an ankle bracelet. In 2014, there were 29,544 drunk driving arrests in the state. This was an increase of 640 from 2013. The increase in the DUI rate has prompted action from the legislature. They believe ankle bracelets will be effective at stemming this growing trend.

Driver's License Valid for Longer

One change that's certain to be popular is that the duration a driver's license is valid for has been extended. Under the new law, a license will be valid for 8 years. This is up from 5 years under the previous statute.

Possible New Insurance Penalties

Finally, drivers should be aware that there are concerted efforts to increase penalties for driving without insurance. Currently, nearly 33% of drivers in Tennessee are uninsured. Those without insurance should seek coverage immediately as it is likely that penalties will be increased significantly by the legislature in the coming year.

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