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Traffic Tickets

Traffic Tickets

Our office provides representation to those who have received a ticket for violations of the state traffic statutes or local ordinances.

We serve the following counties:

Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne (upon negotiation), Knox, Loudon, Jefferson (upon negotiation), Grainger (upon negotiation), Roane, Sevier (upon negotiation), and Union, others upon review of issue and negotiation.

Private and commercial drivers are represented.

GENERALLY

ATTORNEY FEE:   Subject to negotiation, depending on issues, whether a commercial violation or license involved, and county where violation occurred. Court Costs are additional and are paid to a Clerk of Court, having no relationship to the attorney fee. Representation agreements must be signed at the initiation of an Attorney-Client Relationship.

APPEARANCE:   Client discretion for minor offenses. Normally required for Reckless Driving or more serious offense. Appearance is accomplished with a limited power of attorney granting the attorney the power to enter a plea to allow for negotiation of the ticket. Translation - client need not come to court unless informed by attorney to attend.

DRIVER SAFETY:    Normally required by Knox County to obtain a dismissal of the charge. The safety course can be taken near your home, but an original certificate must be submitted. Each case is unique and this guideline may or may not apply.

COURT COSTS:    Normally must be paid to obtain a dismissal. The cost ranges from $95 to $150 depending upon the specific agreement and the county assessing the costs. Normally costs may be paid within 60 days of appearance.

JURY TRIALS:  The right to trial by jury is an important right protected by the Tennessee Constitution, but like many rights the failure to raise the right at the right time means you loose. State v. Jarnigan , 958 S.W.2d 135, (Tenn. Crim. App. 1997), is an example of strategic omission becoming the basis to reverse the conviction of a misdemeanor traffic ticket, potemtially avoiding any assignment of points and possibly saving a driver's license from suspension if the issue had been a moving violation.  Here Mr. Jarnigan believed that his right to jury trial was violated and he won.

PROSECUTOR -- Most traffic offenses are prosecuted by the officer who wrote the ticket (Knox County always and Campbell County often - District Attorney). However, if this is a contested matter, all counties will normally provide a prosecutor, because of the private counsel, and will reset the matter. 

TRAFFIC HISTORY:   Most DA's require that a driving history be presented prior to entering into any agreement. Clients can obtain this document from their Driver's License Agency.

INSURANCE: Proof of Insurance must be on the driver's person at all times, which reflects the driver's name. This is a recent change to Tennessee law and not all insurance companies are aware. This citation is often dismissed upon showing of proof of insurance at the time the citation was written. You can loose your driver's license for failure to maintain insurance, cited, and are convicted. Restoration is an additional fee beyond the fine and citation, in the amount of $65, with all the headache accompanying obtaining a new license.

CITY OF KNOXVILLE:  City violations are violations of city ordinance.  A conviction of the ordinance will be treated as a reportable event, you will get the points. 

 

Known problems:

Private vehicles - Tennessee will not assess points if cited for less than 65 in a 55 on an Interstate, or less than 75 in a 65 on an Interstate (may apply to other 4-lane roads). Exceeding these posted limits will result in points being assessed. Tenn. Code Ann. Section 55-8-152. However, paying this fine may still result in a report being posted upon your driving history, and will result in reduced opportunity to obtain any future relief in the event of a subsequent traffic violation. However - No one has ever fully explained how the citation and point system will differentiate between the "no point assessed" and the "point assessed" ticket since both cite to the same statute, the rule is dependant on road configuration and speed limit in 1974, and the ticket, on it's face, does not provide a clear explanation of the rule. Thus this "safe harbor" is dependant on the clerks of the courts for thier interpretation for reporting the citation to the State of Tennessee Commissioner of Safety.  Reported convictions will be reported to your home state.   Remember - Your home state will decide if points are assessed, not Tennessee.

Commercial vehicles / Trucks - the above safe harbor for points does not apply.   Further, Rules and Regulations change routinely which change the potential for relief from a trial court and which increase risk to interstate and intrastate commercial drivers.

Tennessee Administrative Rules will not apply to out-of-state drivers.

Example: Upon conviction and reporting, North Carolina will suspend it's residence's driver's license for driving faster than 75 out-of-state. The suspension will occur even if Tennessee does not require the suspension.

Criminal Penalty (generally - specific statutes may increase the fine, fine does not include court costs which average $120.00 to $250.00)

Class A - Misdemeanor - 11 Months, 29 days incarceration, Fine of $1,500.00
Class B - Misdemeanor - 6 Months incarceration, Fine of $500.00
Class C- Misdemeanor - 30 days incarceration, Fine of $50.00

Drag Racing - Class B, Misdemeanor, almost always requires appearance, punishment may include up to 6 months imprisonment, fine not to exceed $500, or both, plus MANDATORY 1 year divers license suspension (can obtain restricted license on Court approval) but on 2nd conviction within TEN (10) years of the most recent - MANDATORY LIFE SUSPENSION OF DRIVERS LICENSE.

Reckless Driving - Class B, Misdemeanor, almost always requires appearance, punishment may include up to 6 months imprisonment, fine not to exceed $500, or both.

Work Zone Violation - Class B, Misdemeanor, punishable by fine not to exceed $500 but not less than $250, without imprionement, (workers must be present and other specifics apply). This citation is often added by an officer merely for speeding within the posted zone whether or not workers are present.

Tennessee Point System: In addition to losing a driver's license for a DUI, (First offense 12 month suspension, may get a restricted work permit on motion and good cause shown), you can also lose your license if you have lesser driving offenses adding up to a total of 12 points in any 12 month period (meaning any 12 consecutive months and not just limited to a calendar year), with points assigned as indicated below.

SPEEDING:   (generally - Class C Misdemeanor)

where ticket indicates no particular speed above speed limit                 3 points
         if conviction was for driving in a Construction Zone                                   4 points

when conviction for 1 to 5 mph above speed limit                                1 points 
         if conviction was for driving in a Construction Zone                                   2 points
when conviction for 6 to 15 mph above speed limit                              3 points
         if conviction was for driving in a Construction Zone                                       6 points
when conviction for 16 to 25 mph above speed limit                            4 points
          if conviction was for driving in a Construction Zone                                       7 points
when conviction for 26 to 35 mph above speed limit                            5 points
         if conviction was for driving in a Construction Zone                                       7 points
when conviction for 36 to 45 mph above speed limit                            6 points 
         if conviction was for driving in a Construction Zone                                       8 points
when conviction for 46 mph or more above speed limit                        8 points
          if conviction was for driving in a Construction Zone                                       8 points

SPEEDING in a COMMERCIAL VEHICLE:

where ticket indicates no particular speed above speed limit                     4 points
            if conviction was for driving in a Construction Zone                                         4 points
when conviction for 1 to 5 mph above speed limit                                    2 points
            if conviction was for driving in a Construction Zone                                         2 points
when conviction for 6 to 14 mph above speed limit                                  4 points 
            if conviction was for driving in a Construction Zone                                         5 points
when conviction for 15 to 25 mph above speed limit                                6 points
when conviction for 26 to 35 mph above speed limit                                7 points
when conviction for 36 or more above speed limit                                    8 points
when Excessive speed not indicated                                                        4 points
            if conviction was for driving in a Construction Zone                                 4 points

MOVING TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS:
Operating without being licensed (while license suspended)                       8 points
Class B, Misdemeanor

Operating without license required for type of vehicle operated                  8 points
Class B, Misdemeanor (while license suspended)
Driving while license canceled -- Class B, Misdemeanor                            8 points

Driving while impared         Class A, Misdemeanor                                      8 points

Reckless endangerment by vehicle - misdemeanor                                    8 points
Reckless Driving                                                                                              6 points
Passing school bus taking on or letting off passengers                              6 points
Operating without license required for type of vehicle operated                6 points
1st offense violation of driver license restrictions                                        6 points
Fleeing law enforcement officer                                                                     6 points
Leaving the scene of an accident with property damage only                    5 points
Signs & traffic control devices - failure to obey                                            4 points
Improper passing, passing where prohibited                                               4 points

Driving wrong way or wrong side or direction                                               4 points
Failure to yield right of way                                                                              4 points
Careless or negligent driving                                                                          4 points
Violation of bumper law                                                                                   4 points
Following improperly                                                                                        3 points
Making improper turn                                                                                       3 points
Driving less than the posted minimum speed                                               3 points
Operating vehicle without being licensed (license not suspended)            3 points
Operating without license required for type of vehicle operated                 3 points
(license not suspended)
Miscellaneous -- failure to maintain control, improper control, etc              3 points
Failure to signal change of vehicle direction                                                 2 points
Following emergency vehicles unlawfully                                                       2 points
Careless or negligent driving                                                                          4 points

MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS:
Contributing to an accident causing death of a person                 8 points
Failure to report an accident                                                            4 points
Contributing to an accident causing bodily injury                           4 points
Contributing to an accident causing property damage                3 points

So long as you don't get a total of 12 points within any 12 month period you will not have your license revoked on points, but if it is revoked on points, you won't get it back just by waiting until another 12 month period passes or once you no longer have had 12 points in a 12 month period. You instead have to pay a reinstatement fee and to also provide proof of carrying SR-22 insurance -- special (and more expensive) insurance coverage for high risk drivers.

The determination of the need for legal services and the choice of a lawyer are extremely important decisions and should not be based solely upon advertisements, certification, specialization or self-proclaimed expertise. Certifications of specialization are available to Tennessee lawyers in all areas of practice relating to or included in the areas of Civil Trial, Criminal Trial, Business Bankruptcy, Consumer Bankruptcy, Creditor's Rights, Medical Malpractice, Legal Malpractice, Accounting Malpractice, Elder Law, Estate Planning and Family Law. Listing of related or included practice areas herein does not constitute or imply representation of certification of specialization. These disclosures are required by the Supreme Court of Tennessee.This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

 

This site is owned by David B. Hamilton and written permission is required to use any of the information on this web site.

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