While some motorists regard driving as a basic right, the fact is that operating a motor vehicle is a privilege that must be earned and maintained by demonstrating safe and lawful driving. Under certain circumstances, an individual's Tennessee driver's license may be suspended or revoked for a specific length of time, depending on the person's driving record or history, and the particular violation(s).
REASONS FOR DRIVER'S LICENSE SUSPENSIONS
There are a variety of reasons why your Tennessee driver's license might be suspended. Some of these are related to specific driving violations, while others may be due to violation of other State laws. Following are some of the most common reasons for a Tennessee driver's license to be suspended or revoked.
- Driving Under the Influence. Your Tennessee driver's license will be suspended if you are found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The length of the suspension will be between one year for a first offense, two years for a second offense, three to ten years for a third conviction and possibly permanently for a fourth conviction. In addition you will face a jail term of between 48 hours up to 11 months and 29 days. Two or more convictions will result in your vehicle being seized. A fourth or subsequent conviction is a class E felony
- Excessive Moving Violations. The state of Tennessee operates on a point system, in which drivers accumulate points on their license for every moving violation they commit. If you accumulate 12 or more points on your current driver record in a one year period, you will receive a notification of proposed suspension and will have the opportunity to attend a hearing. Failure to attend the hearing will result in license suspension for periods ranging from six months to one year. Attending a hearing may provide the opportunity to undergo a Defensive Driving Course which may waive your license suspension, or reduce the suspension period.
- Driving without Insurance. All motor vehicles driven in Tennessee must be properly insured. Failure to provide proof of valid auto insurance can result in your license being suspended.
- Failure to stop following an accident. Failing to stop when involved in an accident or attempting to elude a police officer will also result in license suspension.
- Other Driving Related Violations. Your Tennessee driver's license may also be suspended if you engage in reckless driving or racing, give false information to a police officer or if you fail to stop when signaled. Your Tennessee driver's license may also be suspended if you engage in reckless driving, are found to be at fault in a fatal accident, or if you abandon your vehicle on a public highway.
- Driving without a License. If you are stopped while driving and are unable to display your license to a police officer, you will be fined between two dollars and fifty dollars.
- Failure to pay Child Support. Your license will be suspended if you fail to pay child support.
- Physical or Psychological Disqualification. The DPS Chief Administrator can order a re-examination of any person who may not be fit to drive. An individual's driving privileges may be suspended if the re-examination finds they are physically or psychologically unable to drive safely.
- Non-Driving Reasons for License Suspension. A variety of non-driving violations or issues can result in your license being suspended. These include: not responding to a DPS notice or not appearing in court; failing to pay traffic tickets, fines or surcharges.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR TENNESSEE DRIVER'S LICENSE IS SUSPENDED
Having your Tennessee driver's license suspended is a serious matter, and it is essential to adhere to State law in the event that your license is suspended.
If your license has not already been taken away from you in court, you must surrender it to the Tennessee Department of Safety within 20 days of the suspension. You can surrender your license to any Tennessee highway patrol officer or driver license station, or mail it to:
Tennessee Department of Safety 1150 Foster Avenue Nashville, Tennessee 37243
Failure to surrender your license will result in a $75 fine in addition to any other fines.
If you believe your license may be suspended due to one of the reasons listed above it is advisable to speak with a traffic ticket lawyer or a DUI-DWI lawyer.
APPEALING A SUSPENSION
Before your license is suspended, you will receive a notification of proposed suspension from the Department of Safety. You will be given the opportunity to attend a hearing to appeal your suspension. In addition, drivers whose license may be suspended due to accumulating excessive points may be eligible to enroll in a Driver Improvement Program. Completing a Driver Improvement Program may remove points from the current driving record, and in some cases can enable an individual to avoid having his license suspended.
It is also a good idea to seek the advice of a traffic ticket lawyer or a DUI-DWI lawyer, based on the reason for the suspension.
RESTORING YOUR LICENSE
The steps you need to follow to reinstate your license following a suspension depend on several factors, including the reasons for suspension and any other violations on your record. In all cases you must contact the Department of Safety by mail at:
Tennessee Department of Safety Financial Responsibility 1150 Foster Avenue. Nashville, Tennessee 37243
You may also contact the Department by calling (615) 741-3954 or (615) 532-2281 (TDD); or by email at FinResp.Safety@state.tn.us