Several new criminal statutes become effective in 2024. At Delius & McKenzie, PLLC, our criminal defense lawyers understand the latest laws that may affect you in the event any criminal charges are filed against you.

The Tennessean recently discussed some of these laws. Generally, statutes that are passed in Tennessee in 2023 become effective on July 1 of the following year. This means that the following laws will become effective on July 1, 2024 unless otherwise noted.

GPS technology for ignition interlock devices (IIDs)

As of January 1, 2024, IID devices are required to include a GPS (global positioning system). The updated device will be able to track the location of the car at the time of an alcohol breathalyzer test.

The law applies to IIDs that are installed in or after 2024. Many current drivers already have an IID on their vehicle. We’ll explain if you need to install a new IID or whether you can keep your current IID.

The “geotag” of the car’s location will be taken:

  • When the driver first tries to start the car.
  • During random tests while the car is in motion.
  • If tests aren’t being taken for some reason.

The IID should not be used to constantly track where a driver is traveling.

Generally, IID devices are required to be installed if a driver in Tennessee is found guilty of driving while intoxicated or if a driver refuses to submit to a breathalyzer test after being pulled over by a police officer.  The latter can result in a conviction under Tennessee’s implied consent law.

The IID tests the driver’s blood alcohol limit. If the test result shows that the driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08 or higher, then:

  • If the driver hasn’t started driving yet, the car won’t start.
  • If the driver is on the road, the car’s alarms will sound and the lights will flash – forcing the driver to stop the car.

A court can set the calibration level to a lower number such as a .02 BAC.  A court may grant a driver a restricted license to drive if the driver agrees to install an IID on his/her vehicle. The court will also set the length of time the driver must use an IID device. The length of time may vary, depending on whether the driver has prior convictions and other factors.

Gun safety course vouchers

Starting on January 1, 2024, Tennessee requires that the Tennessee Department of Safety begin the creation of a voucher program to reimburse people for the cost of taking a course on handgun safety. The bipartisan law will pay people who take the handgun safety course up to $30 per person.

The new law also “directs licensed federal firearms dealers to display signage that advertises the reimbursement of $30 for taking the safety course.” Tennessee does not require that anyone who purchases a handgun take a safety course.

Increased penalties for distracted driving

Tennessee recognizes the dangers of driving while distracted. Distracted driving includes any activity that takes a driver’s eyes off the road, hands off of the steering wheel, and mind off of traffic. Distracted driving includes texting while driving, talking on a cell phone while driving, eating or drinking while driving, looking at a GPS, tending to a child, and many other distractions.

The new Tennessee law will increase the penalties that are assessed against a driver if the driver is found to be using a phone or similar device while driving. The penalties vary depending on the age of the driver.

  • Drivers 18 and younger. A second violation will result in seven points being applied to the driver’s driving record.
  • Drivers older than 18. The penalty for first and second violations will be four points. The penalty for third and subsequent violations will be five points.

There are additional consequences as well.

Drivers under 18 who accumulate six points on their driving record within one year must attend an administrative hearing. The failure to attend that hearing could result in a suspension of the juvenile’s license. The requirement to attend the administrative hearing applies to adults who accumulate 12 or more points.

The distracted driving law is named for a Lebanese business owner, Eddie Conrad, who was killed in a 2020 car accident.

Other 2024 criminal laws of concern

3B Media News discussed a few more laws that go into effect in 2024:

  • A new pharmacy law. Licensed pharmacists will be required to inspect “drug take-back donations” before the drugs are dispensed. The law requires that the drugs be stored in a secure area. This law is aimed at helping to ensure that dangerous prescription drugs such as opioids are disposed of safely if they are returned to a pharmacy.
  • A juvenile detention law. This law requires that the Tennessee Department of Corrections ensure that children who are in juvenile detention facilities and youth development centers have access to chaplain services.
  • Abrial’s law. This law prohibits penalizing parents for “making a complaint about domestic violence or child abuse while involved in child custody hearings.” Abriel’s law also prevents a child from being moved from one parent to another parent “with a deficient relationship” when they have been accused of abuse.

At Delius & McKenzie, PLLC, our Sevierville criminal defense lawyers keep current with the new state and federal criminal statutes that may affect your case or your rights. For more than 20 years, we’ve been helping defendants assert their defenses. We’ve helped achieve dismissal, plea bargains, and acquittals for many clients. To discuss your defenses and how any recent laws may affect you, call us or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We fight aggressively for anyone charged with a criminal offense in Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the surrounding Tennessee areas.