Pay Traffic Ticket in Tennessee

Pleading Guilty to Your TN Ticket

Simply put, you're admitting guilt (i.e. pleading “guilty") if you choose to pay your traffic ticket fine outright.

When you enter a “guilty" plea, it means:

  • You could be eligible for ticket dismissal if you complete a state-approved defensive driving course.
    • You must apply with the court for this option.
  • You might be able to pay your Tennessee traffic ticket fine online, by mail, or in person.
    • This depends on your court and your specific violation.
  • The state will add points to your driving record.
    • The number of points depends on your violation.
  • Your license could be suspended or revoked.
    • This depends on both the number of points already on your driving record as well as your specific traffic violation.
  • You face harsher penalties if you plead “guilty" to more serious traffic violations.
  • Your car insurance company will likely increase your rates.

You must pay before the compliance date listed on the traffic citation. Failure to act will result in a default judgment, leading to possible driver's license suspension and even a bench warrant for your arrest. If you have difficulty paying your fines and fees you will be eligible to receive a payment plan based on your financial situation. Having a payment plan will allow you to drive to work or school.

CDL Drivers & TN Traffic Tickets

Generally, as a commercial driver you can plead “guilty" and pay your fine outright like any other driver; however, a “guilty" conviction for CDL holders means:

  • You must notify your employer within 30 days* of the violation conviction.
  • You must notify the driver license agency within 30 days* of a violation conviction in another jurisdiction.
  • You face more extreme penalties, depending on your violation.
    • Your CDL could be temporarily or even permanently suspended or revoked.

For more information, refer to the TN Commercial Driver License Manual.

* This applies no matter what kind of vehicle you were driving at the time you received the ticket.

How to Pay Your TN Traffic Ticket

Unless a mandatory court appearance is indicated on your TN traffic citation, you can pay the ticket fine any time before the due date.

Depending on the court, you will have all or some of the following payment options:

  • Online.
  • By mail.
  • In person.

Payment options will be explained on the traffic citation―including the website you must use for online payments. 

Address questions to the presiding court listed on your traffic ticket.

Defensive Driving & TN Tickets

Depending on your situation:

  • You might be eligible to complete a defensive driving course for ticket dismissal.
    • Judges determine eligibility on a case-by-case basis, and generally reserve it for minor traffic offenses.
    • Be sure to ask your judge about this option.
  • You might be ordered to take a driving course to satisfy your TN traffic ticket.
    • Your judge will explain this to you.

Furthermore, your traffic ticket might push your driving record points close to or over the limit for license suspension. Generally, the state notifies you of this and sometimes offers the opportunity to complete a driving school to avoid suspension or at least shorten the amount of time your license is suspended.

See our guide to Defensive Driving in Tennessee for details.

Car Insurance Rates

Typically, you can expect Increased car insurance rates after a “guilty" traffic ticket conviction.

Talk with your provider about this possibility, and if you're facing higher rates consider comparing new quotes online.

Check Your Driving Record

Regardless of your traffic ticket outcome (whether you plead “guilty" or challenge the ticket in court), it's important to check your driving record to make sure:

  • It reflects ONLY the guilty traffic violation and that violation's associated points.
    • Generally, a traffic violation won't appear on your driving record if the court dismissed it after you completed traffic school; if it does, contact your driver license agency or the presiding court for details.
    • Your driving record shouldn't show the traffic violation if you challenged it in court and were found “not guilty."
  • You aren't close to driver's license suspension.
    • The state will suspend your driver's license after your accumulate a certain number of points.
    • The state might give you the opportunity to avoid license suspension if you completed a defensive driving course.

Because your driving record is a report of your driving history and documents your traffic ticket convictions and their points, it can affect your driving privileges; thus, it's important to keep tabs and make sure the information is accurate.

DMV.ORG BBB Business Review