When assigning penalty points in Tennessee, the state Department of Safety (DOS) follows the guidelines of its official driver point system. The number of demerit points you accumulate on your driver’s record varies based on the severity of the offense. More serious violations result in a larger amount of driving points in TN.

Learn more about the state demerit point system and the TN traffic violation penalties issued to drivers who violate state motor vehicle laws by reading the sections below:

  • Moving violations and points in Tennessee
  • Penalties in Tennessee
  • How to fix a driving record in Tennessee
  • Disputing a moving violation charge in Tennessee

Moving Violations and Points in Tennessee

The department records moving violation points in TN when it receives reports of traffic violation convictions and vehicle crashes. The goal of the Tennessee Driver Improvement Program and its demerit point system is to improve the driving habits of motorists who commit multiple offenses within a specific time period.

For that purpose, drivers who accumulate 12 or more infraction points within a one-year period will be penalized with a license suspension for the duration of six to 12 months.

Review the number of TN driving record points you can accrue for several types of offenses in the following list:

  • Operating without a driving license in possession: 2 points.
  • Making an improper turn: 3 points.
  • Failure to yield right-of-way: 4 points.
  • Leaving the scene of an accident: 5 car accident points.
  • Driving in a reckless manner: 6 reckless driving points.
  • Contributing to the occurrence of a crash which resulted in the death of another individual: 8 car accident points in TN.

When assigning demerit points for speeding-related violations, the department takes into consideration the velocity of the driver at the moment he or she violated the state speeding laws. For example, you will be penalized with three speeding ticket points if you were traveling between six and 16 mph over the posted limit.

On the other hand, eight penalty points are assigned to drivers apprehended for driving more than 45 mph over the limit.

Penalties in Tennessee

In addition to the Tennessee traffic ticket penalty issued by the state Department of Safety, drivers who violate motor vehicle laws will also be sentenced by the court that was processing their case. The severity and type of the traffic violation penalties administered after a traffic violation conviction vary based on the seriousness of the offense.

Minor offenses generally result in the accumulation of TN driving license penalty points on your driving record and a specific traffic ticket fine. Severe offenses such as driving under the influence violations and aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, however, may even lead to a jail sentence of a varying length.

For example, the following list outlines several types of drunk driving penalties issued to drivers convicted of DUI offenses in Tennessee:

  • A jail sentence of 48 hours to 150 days
  • A fine in the amount of $350 to $15,000
  • A court-ordered license revocation of one to five years
  • A forfeiture of your motor vehicle
  • Mandatory participation in an alcohol and/or drug treatment program
  • Installment of an ignition interlock device.

Note: The higher range values of the DWI penalties outlined above are administered to repeat offenders.

How to Fix a Driving Record in Tennessee

The option to reduce license points in Tennessee by participating in an approved traffic school program is not currently available to drivers within the state. However, drivers may still be able to enroll in a defensive driving course for purposes of avoiding an impending suspension of their credentials.

If you accumulate 12 or more demerit points in TN within a 12-month period, the department may allow you to attend a driving safety course in order to avoid the license suspension. Note that, the option to avoid the DMV traffic ticket penalty with a certificate of completion of a driver improvement course in TN is only available once within a five-year period.

Instead of seeking for ways to get points off your license in Tennessee, you may be able to avoid the accumulation of infraction points on your driving transcript entirely by completing a state-approved defensive driving course. Note that the availability of this option varies based on the court that is processing your driving ticket and the type of offense that you committed.

Disputing a Moving Violation Charge in Tennessee

The procedure of fighting a speeding ticket in Tennessee or another type of citation is often initiated by drivers who believe they were not at fault for the traffic offense. The first step when appealing a traffic ticket is to submit a plea of “not guilty” via one of several methods, which vary based on the practices of the presiding court.

After informing the court of your decision to dispute a traffic ticket in TN, your trial dates will be scheduled. At this point, you may be requested to appear at a pretrial conference, where you will be granted the opportunity to settle the issue by negotiating a settlement with the prosecutor.

Drivers who fail to do so can start preparing to contest traffic tickets in front of a judge. At the trial, you will be allowed to submit your testimony and any evidence that supports your case, as well as call on any relevant witnesses. You will avoid the TN traffic violation penalties only if the judge finds you “not guilty” to the offense.

Last updated on Wednesday, October 14 2020.