Tennessee Court Records
What Are Traffic Violations And Infractions In Tennessee?
Traffic offenses in Tennessee are either moving or non-moving violations. Depending on the severity, the presence of aggravating factors, and the offender’s criminal history, traffic offenses can be either felonies or misdemeanors. Generally, the Tennessee Criminal Justice System classifies offenses as capital offenses, felonies, and misdemeanors. Capital offenses are the most serious and are punishable by imprisonment for life or by death. Felonies and misdemeanors are punishable by imprisonment, fines, and other penalties defined by the law or the courts.
While felonies are punishable by more than one year in state prison, misdemeanors are punishable by less than one year in county or city jail. Some misdemeanor traffic offenses are penalized with only fines and no jail time. In that case, an officer will issue traffic tickets or citations. Individuals charged with minor traffic offenses will not face imprisonment but will be issued traffic tickets. In some cases, the offender’s record may not accumulate points.
What Are Felony Traffic Violations In Tennessee?
Felony traffic violations cause or pose a risk of death or serious harm to persons other than the offender. Additionally, some repeated offenses are felonies. For example, a first OWI (Operating while impaired) offense is a misdemeanor, while a fourth offense is a felony. Felony traffic violations are the most serious offenses, and as such, severe penalties apply. Tennessee divides felonies into classes A, B, C, D, and E, and the applicable punishment is dependent on the class of the offense.
- Class A felonies are the most serious felony offenses, punishable by up to $50,000 in fines and incarceration for 15–60 years.
- Class B felonies: next to Class A felonies, these are serious offenses, punishable by up to $25,000 in fines and imprisonment for between eight and 30 years.
- Class C felonies: according to state statutes, this class of offenses may be punished with up to $10,000 in fines and incarceration for three to 15 years.
- Class D felonies: offenses in this class may be punished with up to $5,000 in fines and two to 12 years of imprisonment
- Class E felonies: punishable by fines of up to $3,000 and imprisonment for between one and six years, Class E felonies are the least severe felony crimes.
Apart from imprisonment and fines, felony offenses may attract other collateral consequences, such as revocation or loss of driving privileges, increased vehicle insurance premiums, and a loss or suspension of civil rights such as voting. Felony offenders may also not possess or purchase firearms.
Examples Of Felony Traffic Violations In Tennessee?
Some examples of felony traffic violations in Tennessee include:
- Class A felony: aggravated vehicular assault
- Class B felony: vehicular homicide caused by intoxication
- Class C felony: DUI causing the death of a child
- Class D felony: vehicular assault
- Class E felony: driving while it is prohibited by court order.
What Are Traffic Misdemeanors In Tennessee?
Traffic misdemeanors are less serious offenses than felony misdemeanors, as misdemeanors pose less risk of harm or bodily injury to others. Misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in county or city jail. In Tennessee, most traffic offenses are classified as misdemeanors. There are three misdemeanor classes in Tennessee. Misdemeanors are rated according to severity, and penalties are corresponding. Class A misdemeanors are the most serious, and Class C misdemeanors are the least serious misdemeanors.
- Class A misdemeanors: these offenses are punishable by up to $2500 in fines, imprisonment for a maximum term of 11 months and 29 days, or imprisonment and fines.
- Class B misdemeanors: these offenses are punishable by up to $500 in fines, imprisonment terms of up to six months, or both imprisonment and fines
- Class C misdemeanors: these offenses are punishable by up to 30 days in jail, up to $50 in fines, or both imprisonment and fines. Class C misdemeanors are the least severe offenses in Tennessee.
Apart from fines and imprisonment, misdemeanors may also result in additional penalties such as a suspension of the offender’s driver’s license or driving privileges, points assessed against the offender’s record, which may lead to increased vehicle insurance premiums, and community supervision.
Examples Of Traffic Misdemeanors In State
- Class A misdemeanors: reckless endangerment, driving with a suspended license (second offense in ten years)
- Class B misdemeanors: reckless driving, driving with a suspended license (first offense)
- Class C misdemeanors: driving without a seatbelt, failure to obey a traffic control device.
What Constitutes A Traffic Infraction In Tennessee?
Traffic infractions are non-criminal traffic violations or municipal ordinances. Traffic infractions are the least severe traffic offenses. Since traffic infractions are not criminal offenses, individuals do not face jail terms. In some cases, traffic infractions do not result in points assessed against the driver’s record. However, offenders may be required to pay fines or fulfill other conditions as determined by the court or as mandated by the law.
Examples Of Traffic Infractions In Tennessee
- Traffic enforcement camera violations
- Parking violations
- Failure to yield right of way
How Does Traffic Ticket Work In Tennessee?
Law enforcement agents issue traffic tickets to road users who violate state or municipal traffic laws. Typically, traffic tickets, also known as traffic citations, contain information about the nature of the violator’s offense and the applicable fine. Tickets also include information about the court where the recipient may appear or make payment. Individuals may be issued traffic tickets for moving and non-moving violations. Moving violations typically happen when a vehicle is in motion. In contrast, non-moving violations occur when a vehicle is not in motion. However, some non-moving violations occur when a vehicle is in motion.
Recipients of traffic tickets or citations in Tennessee may respond by paying the ticket or contesting the ticket. Paying a ticket is considered an admission of guilt, and it may result in a conviction on the recipient’s record. As such, persons who pay traffic tickets may be required to fulfill the traffic offense’s penalties. Such penalties may include a suspension of the driver’s license and points assessed against the offender’s record. Persons who choose to pay traffic tickets also waive the right to a court hearing.
Parties interested in paying Tennessee traffic tickets may pay online, in person, by mail, and in some cities, over the phone. There is no central payment website or portal for Tennessee traffic tickets. However, in towns or counties where online payment is available, interested parties may visit the city or county website.
Nashville traffic tickets, for instance, can be paid online through the Howard Gentry Criminal Court Clerk. Users are required to enter the ticket or citation number to make a payment online. Similarly, Knoxville offers an online payment platform for traffic tickets. Users may search for traffic tickets using ticket number, driver’s license, social security number, or vehicle information. Traffic tickets that individuals cannot pay online include:
- Tickets where a mandatory court appearance is indicated
- Tickets issued for driver’s license violations
- Tickets issued for violations involving an accident
- Tickets issued for reckless driving
- Tickets issued for insurance violations
- Tickets issued for open container law violation
Recipients may consult the ticket, or the court indicated on the ticket for information about available payment options. Individuals can also make payments for traffic tickets in person at the courthouse and, where available, Traffic Violations Bureaus.
To contest traffic tickets, recipients must call or visit the court to schedule a hearing before the ticket’s deadline. Recipients will be required to pay fines and court fees. Should the violation be dismissed, the court will refund all of the fines.
Persons convicted of traffic offenses may also have points recorded against personal driving records. Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security assigns point values to traffic offenses. Depending on the severity of an offense, the points assigned range from one to eight. For example:
- Speeding 1mph to 5mph above the speed limit is assigned one point.
- Driving without a license is assigned two points.
- Texting while driving is assigned three points
- Failure to report an accident is assigned four points.
- Making an improper turn in a commercial vehicle is assigned five points.
- Speeding in a commercial vehicle is assigned six points.
- Reckless driving in a commercial vehicle is assigned seven points.
- Failure to stop at a railroad crossing is assigned eight points.
Drivers or motorists who accumulate 12 or more points within 12 months will be notified of a proposed suspension. Such persons may attend an administrative hearing and take a defensive driving class. Taking a driving class may eliminate or reduce suspension time. Upon receiving a notice of proposed suspension, drivers who do not request an administrative hearing may lose driving privileges for six to 12 months.
Similarly, juvenile motorists or drivers who accumulate six or more points within 12 months will be required to attend an administrative hearing accompanied by parents or guardians. Such persons will also be placed in a Driver Improvement Program.
Are Traffic/Driving Records Public In Tennessee?
The Department of Safety and Homeland Security maintains Tennessee driving records. Otherwise known as Moving Violation Reports (MVR), Tennessee driving records are protected by the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). The federal act forbids releasing personal information on driving records, including social security numbers, photographs, and medical information without the subject’s consent. However, some agencies or entities may access personal information on driving records, such as:
- Federal, state, government agencies or private entities acting on behalf of the government
- Government agencies for use in legal proceedings
- Insurers, self-insured entities, and insurance support organizations use claims investigation, rating, and anti-fraud activities.
- Employers for license information verification
Additionally, driver’s records that contain the name, address, phone number, and driving license numbers may not be released without the record owner’s permission. Some of the permitted uses for which such personal information may be released include:
- Any government agency uses or functions
- Uses in connection with vehicle performance monitoring, alterations, recalls, or driver safety
- For use by legal businesses for information update and verification
- For use in court in connection with any litigation
- To provide notice of impounded or towed vehicles
- For use by requesters who have obtained the record owner’s written permission
- For other services permitted by law
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How To Find Traffic/Driving Records In Tennessee?
The Department of Safety and Homeland Security maintains Tennessee driving records. Interested parties may contact the department to obtain personal or third-party driving records. Tennessee driving records, also known as Moving Violation Records (MVR), contain three years of driving history. Requesting parties may obtain driving records online, by mail, or in person.
The Tennessee government website hosts the MVR online request portal that interested parties may use to make online MVR requests. Requesting parties must be able to print or save PDF documents. Additionally, requesting parties will be required to make a payment of $7 for each record using credit cards. Prepaid cards are not accepted. For privacy reasons, the driver’s address will not be displayed in the MVR. Other required details are:
- Driver’s last name
- Driver’s phone number
- Driver’s date of birth
- Requestor’s email address
MVR requests may also be sent by mail. A payment of $5 is required and payable through money orders or cashier’s checks. Payment must be addressed to the ‘Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.’ Requests must include the driver’s name, license number, date of birth, and mailed to:
Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security
PO BOX 945
Nashville, TN 37202
Requests sent by mail may take up to two weeks to process. individuals can make MVR requests in person at Driver Service Centers. A $5 fee is required. Requests must contain the driver’s date of birth, license number, and name. A notarized statement of authority must accompany third-party requests. Record owners must submit the notarized reports before third-party requests can be made.
Can Traffic Violation And Infractions Be Expunged/Sealed In Tennessee?
- The record’s subject has no prior convictions, including offenses in other states or federal offenses.
- The person has no more than two prior convictions, which must be eligible for expungement.
- A prior conviction involves multiple offenses that occurred at the same location or in a single episode, and each of the offenses is eligible to be expunged.
- The record’s subject has fulfilled all sentence requirements, including payment of fines, community service, court costs and restitution, probation or imprisonment term completion, and any other court requirements.
- Five years have elapsed since the sentence requirements have been fulfilled.
In Tennessee, it is not possible to expunge or seal records of moving and non-moving traffic infractions.