How Tennessee handles traffic court

How Tennessee handles traffic court

Traffic court in Tennessee is primarily handled by the local court system, and there is some flexibility in the policy of different courts. Memphis is the largest city in Tennessee, and Shelby County also extends north and includes another significant number of residents. Smaller towns with less docket strain are sometimes more informal in the handling of traffic court cases, but all local jurisdictions have the same basic policies for driving infractions. Just as with any other type of legal case, traffic tickets can be contested by the defendant. But, the state also has a standard procedure for paying the fine as a form of pleading guilty.

The Citation

When a driver is given a citation for a highway moving violation there will be a response date on the ticket. The cited driver then has until that stated date to respond to the court. The ticket recipient should either pay the fine, along with the Driver Responsibility Program fee, to retire the ticket. For those individuals who have lost their traffic ticket, it is very important to contact the Division of Motor Vehicles as soon as possible to ensure that the ticket is addressed before the designated response date.

Defending Against a Ticket

Many cited drivers want to contest a ticket when a guilty plea could impact their insurance negatively, or result in a significant fine or loss of points on the driver’s license. A traffic ticket is not as simple as paying the fine for individuals who could possibly even have their employment affected. Speeding tickets can be especially problematic for Class A Commercial Drivers License holders, even when there is no criminal charge associated with the ticket. Reckless driving tickets do not look good on a driving record when the driver is being considered for employment. These contested tickets are afforded the same hearing process as a civil case, with the judge determining the final disposition after the hearing.

Hiring an Attorney

Retaining an attorney may be a good idea for some individuals, especially when the ticket can be personally harmful and was written on borderline evidence. Mere officer observation can be discounted in many cases when officer testimony is the only evidence. There can be a fine line between ticket cases when determining potential criminal driving behavior. Traffic tickets can still be fought just like any other charge., and the ticket can be placed on the docket for a formal hearing.

It is important to remember that traffic tickets that are paid before the response date will not require paying a court cost fee, but ticket cases that are contested will be assessed a court cost unless the case is dismissed without prejudice. The amount of the fine is usually included with the citation, and each jurisdiction has the legal latitude to assess different fine amounts as policy for the local court. This means that the price of a speeding ticket in a city may be much higher than a small town or country jurisdiction. All traffic ticket convictions are not equal in the damage they can do, depending on the location in the state.


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