Fight Traffic Ticket in Tennessee
If you decide to fight your traffic ticket, you'll likely need to plead "not guilty" in court on your scheduled appearance date.
Check your TN ticket for specific instructions, or contact the presiding traffic court directly.
Continue reading this page to learn how to fight your traffic ticket in Tennessee.
If you receive a traffic ticket in Tennessee, you must enter one of the following pleas:
- No contest (nolo contendere).
- Not guilty.
Regardless of plea, it must be entered before the due date shown on your traffic ticket.
If you cannot find your TN traffic citation, learn what steps to follow in our Lost Traffic Ticket page.
(Plead Guilty or No Contest)
- Pay the fine.
- Option to plea bargain penalties.
- Incur points on your driving record (could lead to license suspension/revocation).
- Possibly incur increase on auto insurance rates.
- Possibly have points reduced by attending a defensive driving class.
Learn more about
Paying Your Traffic Ticket.
(Plead Not Guilty)
- Contest traffic ticket via trial.
- Choose to represent yourself or hire an attorney.
- Possibly lose option to plea bargain for lesser penalties.
- No penalties if found "not guilty," but must pay court/attorney fees.
Learn more by reading below.
In Tennessee, pleading " not guilty" to your traffic ticket means:
- You are challenging the charge before a judge with the intent of having the fines and penalties reduced or the traffic ticket dismissed.
- You can represent yourself or hire legal counsel to prepare and present your case.
- If the traffic court rules in your favor, you still must pay court costs and, if applicable, legal fees.
- If you are found "guilty," you must pay the traffic ticket fine, court costs, and, if applicable, legal fees. The Tennessee Department of Safety (DOS) will assign points to your driving record, possibly causing the suspension or revocation of your TN driver's license.
- A "guilty" charge may cause a spike in your car insurance rates.
Pleading Guilty or No Contest
Pleading " guilty" or "no contest" forfeits your right to challenge the traffic citation in court. Our Pay Traffic Tickets page has more details.
Read your traffic ticket. Some courts allow "not guilty" pleas to be entered by mail; others require a court appearance.
If you enter your plea by mail, the court will send a court date to the address listed on your citation.
If your budget allows, strongly consider hiring a traffic ticket lawyer.
A traffic ticket attorney's experience and expertise will improve your chances for reduced charges or dismissal. This in turn could possibly save you from a loss of driving privileges and increased car insurance premiums.
If you opt to represent yourself, the onus is on you to gather evidence and build a strong defense. This could mean interviewing and subpoenaing witnesses and getting hold of your TN driving record.
After listening to both sides, the presiding judge will issue a verdict. If you disagree with the decision, you have the right to appeal. Check with the court clerk for appeal information.
Regardless of verdict, check your driving record to verify points and violations. If you notice any errors, alert the Tennessee DOS immediately.
Shop for Better Auto Insurance Rates
In addition to points on your TN driving record, a "guilty" verdict could also cause a jump in your car insurance premiums. If rates begin to stretch the budget, search online for a new provider.