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Traffic Ticket FAQ in Tennessee

I just got ticketed. What's my next move?

Enter one of three pleas: guilty, no contest, or not guilty.

Pleading guilty or no contest requires paying the fine listed on the citation. Challenging your ticket means appearing in court to enter a not guilty plea.

Regardless of plea, it must be entered before the ticket's compliance date passes.

What happens if I don't enter a plea?

Ignoring the citation will result in a default judgement, leading to the possible suspension of your Tennessee driver's license and a bench warrant being issued for your arrest.

Will I receive points on my driving record?

The Tennessee Department of Safety (DOS) will assign points to your driving record based on the violation. The more severe the violation, the higher the point total.

Depending on your car insurance provider, points may cause an increase in your premiums.

Should I worry about too many points?

At 12 points the DOS will send you a proposed suspension letter, giving you the chance to attend an administrative hearing. If you fail to respond to the notice the DOS will suspend your Tennessee driver's license for up to 12 months.

Can I get points reduced?

If eligible, you can get the ticket dismissed―meaning no fine or points―by completing a court-approved Defensive Driving class. Our Defensive Driving page provides full details.

Why should I hire a traffic ticket attorney?

If you opt to challenge the traffic ticket, legal counsel will improve your chances for a favorable decision. This could mean reduced charges or ticket dismissal, possibly sparing you of points, the possible suspension of your Tennessee driver's license and increased auto insurance rates.

After getting cited, should I expect increased car insurance premiums?

Check with your car insurance agent. Each company has different policies regarding traffic tickets.

If you notice an increase, consider finding a new provider. You can conveniently compare rates online from a host of different auto insurance companies.

I lost my citation? Am I doomed?

No, provided you immediately act on it. Traffic tickets are time sensitive, requiring a response before the ticket's compliance date expires. With this in mind, prioritize contacting the presiding court as quickly as possible.

Learn what steps to take in our Lost Traffic Ticket page.

Are traffic ticket fines the same throughout Tennessee?

Fines vary by county and municipality. The fine amount will be posted on your citation.

Direct fine amount questions to the court listed on your traffic ticket.

What happens if I get ticketed with a Tennessee CDL?

In addition to paying the traffic ticket fine, you must also:

  • Notify you're employer of the traffic ticket conviction. This applies to all vehicles―including your home car―regardless of state.
  • Notify the DOS if convicted of a traffic violation outside of Tennessee.
  • Notify, if applicable, your employer within two days of having your CDL suspended, revoked, or cancelled.

Visit our Ticket Fines & Penalties page for a detailed list of CDL penalties.

Why should I check my driving record after getting cited?

You always want to make sure there are no errors. Plus, check for point awareness. If you know you're nearing the state's suspension limit, you may adopt more defensive driving practices.

What if I can't make my court appearance date?

Contact the court listed on the citation. Most courts will reschedule a new date if you provide enough advance notice.

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