Tennessee Code Annotated

Title 55: Motor and Other Vehicles

Chapter 12: Financial Responsibility Law

TCA 55-12-139: Compliance with financial responsibility law required -- Evidence of compliance -- Issuance of citations by police service technicians.

(a) This chapter shall apply to every vehicle subject to the registration and certificate of title provisions.

(b) At the time the driver of a motor vehicle is charged with any violation under chapters 8 and 10, parts 1-5, and chapter 50 of this title; any other local ordinance regulating traffic; or at the time of an accident for which notice is required under SC 55-10-106, the officer shall request evidence of financial responsibility as required by this section. In case of an accident for which notice is required under SC 55-10-106, the officer shall request evidence of financial responsibility from all drivers involved in the accident, without regard to apparent or actual fault. For the purposes of this section, "financial responsibility" means:

(1) Documentation, such as the declaration page of an insurance policy, an insurance binder, or an insurance card from an insurance company authorized to do business in Tennessee, whether in paper or electronic format, stating that a policy of insurance meeting the requirements of this chapter, has been issued;

(2) A certificate, valid for one (1) year, issued by the commissioner of safety, stating that a cash deposit or bond in the amount required by this chapter, has been paid or filed with the commissioner, or has qualified as a self-insurer under SC 55-12-111; or

(3) The motor vehicle being operated at the time of the violation was owned by a carrier subject to the jurisdiction of the department of safety or the interstate commerce commission, or was owned by the United States, this state or any political subdivision thereof, and that such motor vehicle was being operated with the owner's consent.

(c) (1) It is an offense to fail to provide evidence of financial responsibility pursuant to this section.

(2) Except as provided in subdivision (c)(3), a violation of subdivision (c)(1) is a Class C misdemeanor punishable only by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100).

(3) (A) A violation of subdivision (c)(1) is a Class A misdemeanor, if a person is not in compliance with the financial responsibility requirements of this chapter at the time of an accident resulting in bodily injury or death and such person was at fault for the accident.

(B) For purposes of subdivision (c)(3)(A), a person is at fault for an accident if the person acted with criminal negligence, as defined in SC 39-11-106, in the operation of such person's motor vehicle.

(d) The fines imposed by this section shall be in addition to any other fines imposed by this title for any other violation under this title.

(e) (1) On or before the court date, the person so charged may submit evidence of financial responsibility at the time of the violation. If it is the person's first violation of this section and the court is satisfied that the financial responsibility was in effect at the time of the violation, the charge of failure to provide evidence of financial responsibility shall be dismissed. Upon the person's second or subsequent violation of this section, if the court is satisfied that the financial responsibility was in effect at the time of the violation, the charge of failure to provide evidence of financial responsibility may be dismissed. Any charge that is dismissed pursuant to this subsection (e) shall be dismissed without costs to the defendant and no litigation tax shall be due or collected, notwithstanding any law to the contrary.

(2) A person who did not have financial responsibility that was in effect at the time of being charged with a violation of subsection (c) shall not have that person's violation of subsection (c) dismissed.

(f) (1) Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, in any county having a population in excess of seven hundred fifty thousand (750,000), according to the 2000 federal census or any subsequent federal census, police service technicians are authorized to issue traffic citations in lieu of arrest pursuant to SC 55-10-207.

(2) For the purposes of subdivision (f)(1) only, "police service technician" means a person appointed by the director of police services, who responds to requests for service at accident locations and obtains information, investigates accidents and provides other services to assist the police unit, fire unit, ambulance, emergency rescue and towing service.

(g) For purposes of this section, acceptable electronic formats include display of electronic images on a cellular phone or any other type of portable electronic device.

(h) If a person displays the evidence in an electronic format pursuant to this section, the person is not consenting for law enforcement to access any other contents of the electronic device.

History: Acts 2001, ch. 292, SC 1; 2002, ch. 648, SC 1; 2005, ch. 401, SC 1; 2008, ch. 1169, SC 1; 2009, ch. 370, SC 1; 2009, ch. 441, SC 1; 2013, ch. 327, SCSC 1, 2; 2013, ch. 479, SC 1.