How to Reinstate Your Suspended Drivers License in Tennessee
Motorists will incur drivers license suspensions in Tennessee for various driving or non-driving misdemeanors. Drivers who have been issued a suspended or revoked driving license in TN, will need to restore their credential in a timely manner to stay in accordance with motor vehicle laws. The drivers license reinstatement requirements generally vary depending on the type and severity of the offense.
Less severe violations usually lead to driving license suspensions for a shorter period of time. More serious offenses will cause the issuance of a TN revoked drivers license and additional penalties, such as jail sentence, large fines and more. Review the applicable sections below to learn how to resume your driving activities in Tennessee.
Reinstating a Tennessee Suspended License
The Tennessee drivers license restoration process must be completed if you have been penalized with a suspension or revocation for a certain traffic offense. In general, driving license suspensions are issued for reasons such as driving while under the influence, illegal use of a driver’s license, vehicular manslaughter, accumulation of demerit points on driving records and more.
Motorists facing a drivers license suspension in Tennessee will receive a notification letter from the Department of Safety (DOS) and will be given the opportunity for a hearing before any further action is taken. In addition to the general driving license restoration criteria, drivers may be required to satisfy specific conditions pertaining to their penalty to finalize the reinstatement process.
How to Reinstate a Tennessee Suspended Drivers License
Motorists with suspended or Tennessee revoked drivers licenses must first surrender their credential to the TN DOS within 20 days upon issuance of the penalty. Failure to take such action will result in paying additional fines.
The steps to reinstate driving licenses in TN will depend on several factors, including the circumstances of your suspension and past driving habits. Prior to reinstating drivers licenses, contact the Department of Safety to inquire about restoration details that are specific to your case.
When completing the driving license reinstatement process, licensees are generally asked to meet the following criteria based on the type of offense:
- Provide payment for the statutory fees and any additional fines.
- Wait out a mandatory driving license suspension period.
- Complete an alcohol and drug treatment program (after a DUI offense).
- Submit an SR-22 form as proof of financial responsibility (if applicable).
- Install an Ignition Interlock Device on their vehicle (if required).
Once you meet all restoration requirements and the DOS processes your request for restoration, you may become eligible to apply for the re-issuance of your driver’s license.
Suspension Periods in Tennessee
One of the conditions to reinstate driving licenses in Tennessee is to complete a mandatory penalty period. Drivers license suspension or revocation periods will, once again, depend on the severity and type of the committed offense. Adult motorists will receive a suspended drivers license in TN for the duration of six to 12 months due to the accumulation of too many negative points on their driving report.
DUI-related violations generally lead to longer driving license revocation periods. Per the Implied Consent Law, drivers will incur a one-year revocation of their privilege to drive for a first-time refusal to submit to a chemical test. Subsequent violations will result in harsher penalties. A one-year Tennessee revoked drivers license will be handed down in case of a first DUI conviction. Second-time offenders will have their credential revoked for a period of two years.
Habitual offenders may be issued a driving license revocation ranging from three to 10 years. Suspension penalties for certain offenses, such as failure to answer to a traffic citation, will remain in effect until licensees resolve the issue with the corresponding entity.
Note: To avoid being issued a TN suspended drivers license or to reduce the penalty period, you may enroll in a traffic school.
Tennessee Point System
The Department of Safety typically administers driving license suspensions in Tennessee for point-related offenses. Drivers who are 18 years of age or older will receive a notice of drivers license suspension if they amass 12 or more demerit points on their driving transcript within any 12-month period. Minors will also be handed down a TN suspended drivers license for the accumulation of six or more points on their record within any period of 12 months.
Before the DOS takes a specific action against their license, motorists have the option to attend a hearing and discuss the points assigned. In order to avoid driving license suspensions, the department also mails advisory letters to licensees who are at risk of exceeding the point limit. The following list outlines various traffic offenses and their corresponding penalties:
- Speeding – 1 to 8 points.
- Reckless driving – 6 points.
- Improper passing – 4 points.
- Failure to yield right of way – 4 points.
- Child endangerment – 8 points.
Traffic School in Tennessee
Motorists who wish to avoid driving license suspensions in TN or reduce the allotted penalty period may choose to enroll in a traffic school. In general, suspended drivers licenses are issued to motorists for an excess of negative points on their driving records.
If they request a hearing, however, they may have the option to attend a defensive driving course, thus preventing a Tennessee drivers license suspension. Note that you may attend such course only once in a five-year time frame. Licensees who graduate from a traffic school may also earn other benefits, including the possibility to reduce their vehicle insurance premiums.
Types of Tennessee Driver’s License Suspensions
Drivers license suspensions in Tennessee can be issued for a variety of driving or non-driving offenses. Some of the most common situations for a suspended or revoked driving license in TN are outlined in the following list:
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
- Violation of the Implied Consent Law.
- Physical or mental disabilities which may lead to unsafe driving.
- Excessive accumulation of negative points.
- Failure to provide valid proof of vehicle insurance.
Motorists younger than 18 years of age are also at risk of incurring TN drivers license suspensions following any DUI-related offense, as well as for dropping out of school among other reasons.
Tennessee DUI Suspensions
Drivers will incur strict penalties, including Tennessee revoked drivers licenses, large fines, serving jail sentences and more for operating while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs within the state. TN driving license revocation penalties will be issued to both adult drivers and minors who fail to comply with state motor vehicle laws. In addition to DOS criteria, specific driving license reinstatement requirements may also be imposed by the court system.
Drivers Older Than 21
Adult motorists will face a drivers license revocation in TN for a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .08 or higher, or any trace of narcotic drugs in their system. Revoked driving licenses will also be handed down to licensees who refuse to take a chemical test when stopped by a police officer. Drivers arrested for a DUI violation will face the following penalties and must meet the driving license restoration requirements:
- First DUI conviction: A one-year drivers license revocation, a mandatory jail sentence, a fine ranging from $350 to $1,500 and a restoration fee.
- Second DUI offense: A Tennessee revoked driving license for a period of two years, a $600 to $3,500 fine along with a reinstatement fee and imprisonment.
- Third DUI violation: A license revocation of up to 10 years, a mandatory fine ranging between $1,100 and $10,000, a restoration price and a jail sentence.
Subsequent offenses will result in harsher DOS- or court-imposed penalties. The court may also require licensees with a revoked drivers license to undergo an alcohol and/or drugs assessment and participate in a treatment program.
Moreover, the installation of an ignition interlock device may be necessary in addition to the aforementioned sanctions. Note that other penalties may apply as well.
Drivers Younger Than 21
The Department of Safety administers even stricter drivers license suspension penalties for motorists younger than 21 years of age. A one-year revoked driving license in Tennessee will be issued for a BAC level of .02 percent or any level of other intoxicants.
If you are convicted of driving while impaired other penalties, such as a $250 fine and a possible public service work, may also apply. Minors can also receive a TN suspended drivers license for purchasing and possessing alcoholic beverages.
Car Insurance Suspensions in Tennessee
Motorists must initiate the Tennessee drivers license reinstatement process provided they have been penalized for failure to comply with auto insurance laws. A suspended driving license for a specific period of time will be handed down to drivers who failed to purchase and maintain the following amounts of liability coverage:
- $15,000 for property damage.
- $25,000 for injury or death of one person.
- $50,000 for injury or death of more than one person.
In addition to driving license suspensions in TN, a block will be placed against the renewal of auto registration and tags after a no-insurance violation. Prior to reinstating your driving license, you will be required to provide proof of financial responsibility and meet other restoration requirements as well.
Traffic Summons or Failure to Pay
Drivers will also face a TN driving license suspension, revocation or cancellation for failure to answer to a traffic citation. Your drivers license suspension will remain in effect until you settle the issue with the appropriate court and arrange payment for the allotted fees.
Once you do so, it is the responsibility of the court to notify the TN DOS that all conditions have been satisfied. Contact the court that is handling your case to inquire about payment instructions.
Tennessee Hardship Drivers License
Motorists with a suspended or revoked driving license in Tennessee have the option to obtain a restricted credential. Having a restricted license while serving a mandatory drivers license suspension period will allow licensees to travel to certain locations only.
In general, restricted driver’s licenses are issued for employment, school or court-order purposes. Drivers with TN revoked driving licenses for vehicular assault or homicide due to DUI, or more than one DUI conviction within a 10-year period are not eligible to obtain such credential.
Applying for a Tennessee Hardship License
To apply for a restricted driving license prior to completing the imposed Tennessee drivers license suspension period, drivers may first be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on their vehicles.
When submitting their application, drivers will also need to provide two copies of the issued court order for a restricted credential and an SR-22 form proving their financial responsibility. Finally, applicants will need to pass the appropriate exams and arrange payment for the set fees.
Fees to Reinstate a Tennessee Drivers License
Paying the allotted TN driving license restoration fees is necessary to complete the reinstatement procedure and continue to drive legally within the state. The Department of Safety typically imposes different fees depending on the reason for your drivers license suspension or revocation.
Most DUI-related offenses, for instance, will require a Tennessee driving license reinstatement fee which is currently set at $100. Additional fees may also apply in such case. For example, if you are required to present an SR-22 form, you will need to do so along with a $50 fee.
A $75 fee will apply for failure to turn in your suspended drivers license to the DOS in due time. The state Department of Safety currently offers an online provider for paying the set prices. If you wish to use this service tool be prepared to provide your last name, date of birth, TN driver’s license or state ID number and your Social Security Number (SSN) to start the process.
- Reinstatement Centers from TN.gov