Tennessee Code Annotated

Title 55: Motor and Other Vehicles

Chapter 50: Uniform Classified and Commercial Driver License Act

Part 5: Suspension and Revocation

TCA 55-50-502: Suspension of licenses -- Hearings -- Period of suspension or revocation -- Surrender of license -- Restricted license -- Operating under license of another jurisdiction prohibited -- Appeal. [Amended effective June 30, 2012. See the Compiler's Notes.]

(a) (1) The department is authorized to suspend the license of an operator or chauffeur upon a showing by its records or other sufficient evidence that the licensee:

(A) Has committed an offense for which mandatory revocation of license is required upon conviction; provided, that in the event of a conviction resulting from the offense, the time of mandatory revocation shall be counted from the date upon which the driver license was received by the department or the circuit court clerk;

(B) Has contributed as a driver in any accident resulting in the death or personal injury of another or serious property damage;

(C) Has been convicted with a frequency of serious offenses against traffic regulations governing the movement of vehicles as to indicate a disrespect for traffic laws and a disregard for the safety of other persons on the highways. For purposes of this subdivision (a)(1)(C), no conviction of exceeding the speed limit in a state other than Tennessee shall be considered by the department unless the conviction was for exceeding the lawful speed in the other state by more than five miles per hour (5 mph). This five miles per hour (5 mph) allowance shall not apply in marked school zones;

(D) Is an habitually reckless or negligent driver of a motor vehicle;

(E) Is incompetent to drive a motor vehicle;

(F) Has permitted an unlawful or fraudulent use of the license;

(G) Has committed an offense in another state that if committed in this state would be grounds for suspension or revocation;

(H) Has been finally convicted of any driving offense in any court and has not paid or secured any fine or costs imposed for that offense; provided, however, that, in any county having a population of not less than eight hundred ninety-seven thousand four hundred (897,400) nor more than eight hundred ninety-seven thousand five hundred (897,500), according to the 2000 federal census or any subsequent federal census, prior to the suspension of a license, the local court or court clerk of the jurisdiction shall offer an installment payment plan, and for so long as the licensee complies with the plan, the department may not suspend the license pursuant to this subdivision (a)(1)(H);

(I) Has failed to appear in any court to answer or to satisfy any traffic citation issued for violating any statute regulating traffic. No license shall be suspended pursuant to this subdivision (a)(1)(I) for failure to appear in court on or failure to pay a parking ticket or citation or for a violation of SC 55-9-603. Any request from the court for suspension under this subdivision (a)(1)(I) must be submitted to the department of safety within six (6) months of the violation date. No suspension action shall be taken by the department unless the request is made within six (6) months of the violation date except in the case where the driver is a commercial license holder, or the violation occurred in a commercial motor vehicle. Prior to suspending the license of any person as authorized in this subsection (a), the department shall notify the licensee in writing of the proposed suspension and, upon the licensee's request, shall afford the licensee an opportunity for a hearing to show that there is an error in the records received by the department; provided, that the request is made within thirty (30) days following the notification of proposed suspension or cancellation. Failure to make the request within the time specified shall without exception constitute a waiver of that right;

(J) Is under eighteen (18) years of age and has withdrawn either voluntarily or involuntarily or has failed to maintain satisfactory academic progress from a secondary school as provided in SC 49-6-3017; or

(K) (i) Has contributed as a driver to the occurrence of an accident on school property, or on a highway with special speed limits, in which a pedestrian child suffers serious bodily injury as the result of the accident;

(ii) As used in this subdivision (a)(1)(K), unless the context otherwise requires:

(a) "Highway with special speed limits" means any highway with reduced speed limits, authorized pursuant to SC 55-8-152, when a warning flasher or flashers are in operation, and while children are actually present;

(b) "Pedestrian child" means any person under eighteen (18) years of age afoot, in a mechanized wheelchair or on a nonmotorized wheeled device, including, but not limited to, a bicycle, a scooter, a skateboard, roller skates, in-line skates or a wheelchair;

(c) "School property" means any outdoor grounds contained within a public or private preschool, nursery school, kindergarten, elementary or secondary school's legally defined property boundaries, as registered in a county register's office; and

(d) "Serious bodily injury" means bodily injury that involves:

(1) A substantial risk of death;

(2) Protracted unconsciousness;

(3) Extreme physical pain;

(4) Protracted or obvious disfigurement; or

(5) Protracted loss or substantial impairment of a function of a bodily member, organ or mental faculty.

(2) No municipal law enforcement officer is authorized to seize the license of an operator or chauffeur for a traffic offense in violation of a municipal ordinance or a traffic offense as provided in chapter 8 of this title.

(b) (1) The department is authorized to cancel any operator's or chauffeur's license upon determining that the licensee was not entitled to the issuance, of the license or that the licensee failed to give the required or correct information in the application or committed any fraud in making the application.

(2) Upon the cancellation, the licensee must surrender the license so cancelled to the department.

(c) (1) The department, upon suspending or revoking a license, shall require that the license be surrendered to and be retained by the department. Prior to the reissuance of any license revoked because of a conviction of driving while under the influence of liquor or an intoxicating drug, after a second or subsequent conviction, the department shall require the owner to submit evidence that the owner has completed a program of alcohol or drug abuse education, or has completed treatment by a physician board certified or eligible in psychiatry or a licensed psychologist certified with competence in clinical psychology; or, at a facility licensed by the department of mental health and substance abuse services to provide this treatment. Certification of the psychiatrist or clinical psychologist or facility licensed by the department of mental health and substance abuse services under this section is not to be construed as a prediction of future behavior but merely certification of completion of the program.

(2) When the examination, as required by this subsection (c), is administered by a state supported mental health facility, the facility and medical doctors or doctors of psychology employed by the facility who administer the examinations within the course and scope of the doctor's authority under the statute, shall be immune from tort liability for the proper dissemination of any report or findings to the department of safety that results from the examination; provided, that this immunity shall not extend to any other person, institution, or other member of the private sector, not employed or attached to a state supported mental health facility.

(3) (A) The trial judge of the court wherein the trial for the offense of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or an intoxicating drug is pending may order the issuance of a restricted license allowing the person so arrested to operate a motor vehicle for the purpose of going to and from and working at the person's regular place of employment or to operate only a motor vehicle that is equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device. The trial judge may order the issuance of a restricted license allowing a person whose license has been suspended due to a conviction for violating SC 39-14-151 or chapter 10, part 5 of this title to operate a motor vehicle for the purpose of going to and from and working at the person's regular place of employment. A Tennessee resident, whose operator's license has been suspended because of an arrest in another jurisdiction on a charge of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating liquor or a narcotic drug, may apply to a judge of any court of the county of the person's residence having jurisdiction to try charges for a restricted motor vehicle operator's license.

(B) The judge may order the issuance of a restricted license, if:

(i) Based upon the records of the department of safety the person does not have a prior conviction for a violation of SC 39-13-106, SC 39-13-213(a)(2), or SC 39-13-218 in this state, or a similar offense in another state; and

(ii) No person was seriously injured or killed in the course of the conduct that resulted in the driver's conviction under SC 55-10-401.

(C) If the trial judge imposes geographic restrictions, the trial judge may issue the order allowing the person so convicted to operate a motor vehicle for the limited purposes of going to and from:

(i) And working at the person's regular place of employment;

(ii) The office of the person's probation officer or other similar location for the sole purpose of attending a regularly scheduled meeting or other function with the probation officer by a route to be designated by the probation officer;

(iii) A court-ordered alcohol safety program;

(iv) A college or university in the case of a student enrolled full time in the college or university;

(v) A scheduled interlock monitoring appointment;

(vi) A court ordered outpatient alcohol and drug treatment program; and

(vii) The person's regular place of worship for regularly scheduled religious services conducted by a bona fide religious institution as defined in SC 48-101-502(c).

(D) If the violation resulting in the person's conviction for driving under the influence occurred prior to July 1, 2013, the law in effect when the violation occurred shall govern the person's eligibility for a restricted motor vehicle operator license unless the person petitions the court to consider the person's eligibility under the law in effect when the petition is filed.

(E) The person so arrested may obtain a certified copy of the order and within ten (10) days after it is issued present it, together with an application fee of sixty-five dollars ($65.00), to the department, which shall forthwith issue a restricted license embodying the limitations imposed in the order.

(4) Where a nonresident whose license has been suspended or revoked by any other state subsequently becomes a bona fide resident of this state, and where the person has been granted a restricted license by the other state if the triggering offense would under the laws of this state provide for the issuance of a restricted driver license upon petition to a judge of the court of general sessions, or its equivalent, for the county wherein the person resides, the court may order the issuance of a restricted motor vehicle operator's license. The court shall have discretion to order the person to operate only a motor vehicle that is equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device or place additional limitations on the person's restricted license; provided, however, that a restricted license issued pursuant to this subdivision (c)(4) without an ignition interlock requirement shall be subject to geographic restrictions, as provided in subdivision (c)(3), during the mandatory revocation/suspension period. If the person has a prior conviction within the past ten (10) years for a violation of SC 55-10-401 or SC 55-10-421, in this state or a similar offense in any other jurisdiction, the court shall be required to order the person to operate only a motor vehicle that is equipped with a functioning ignition interlock device. The person may obtain a certified copy of the order and within thirty (30) days after it is issued present it, together with an application fee of sixty-five dollars ($65.00), to the department, which shall then issue a restricted license embodying the limitations imposed in the order.

(d) (1) This subsection (d) applies statewide.

(2) A person whose license has been suspended, pursuant to subdivision (a)(1)(H) or (a)(1)(I), subject to the approval of the court, may pay any local fines or costs, arising from the convictions or failure to appear in any court, by establishing a payment plan with the local court or the court clerk of the jurisdiction. Notwithstanding SC 55-50-303(b)(2), the fines and costs for a conviction of driving while suspended, when the conviction was a result of a suspension pursuant to subdivision (a)(1)(H) or (a)(1)(I), may be included in such payment plan, subject to the approval of the court.

(3) The department is authorized to reinstate a person's driving privileges when the person provides the department with certification from the local court, or court clerk of the jurisdiction that the person has entered into a payment plan with the local court or the court clerk of the jurisdiction and has satisfied all other provisions of law relating to the issuance and restoration of a driver license.

(4) The department shall, upon notice of the person's failure to comply with any payment plan established pursuant to this subsection (d), suspend the license of the person. Persons who default under this subsection (d) shall not be eligible for any future payment plans under this subsection (d). The department shall notify the person in writing of the proposed suspension, and upon request of the person within thirty (30) days of the notification, shall provide the person an opportunity for a hearing to show that the person has, in fact, complied with the local court's or the court clerk's payment plan. Failure to make the request within thirty (30) days of receipt of notification shall, without exception, constitute a waiver of the right.

(5) Any person who has defaulted on a pay plan to pay fines and costs for suspension actions taken under subdivision (a)(1)(H) or (a)(1)(I), shall not be eligible to participate in a payment plan, nor shall the department of safety have the authority to accept a payment plan as a condition precedent to the restoration of driving privileges.

(6) Any county that participates in the payment plan authorized by this subsection (d) shall pay to the state any expense required to be paid for state implementation of this subsection (d). The payment shall be divided pro rata among the counties to which this subsection (d) applies. The payment shall be made prior to the implementation by the county of this subsection (d).

(e) (1) Any resident or nonresident whose operator's or chauffeur's license or right or privilege to operate a motor vehicle in this state has been suspended or revoked as provided in this chapter shall not operate a motor vehicle in this state under a license, permit, or registration certificate issued by any other jurisdiction or otherwise during the suspension or after the revocation until a new license is obtained when and as permitted under this chapter.

(2) The privilege of driving a motor vehicle on the highways of this state given to a nonresident hereunder is subject to suspension or revocation by the department in like manner and for like cause as an operator's or chauffeur's license issued under this chapter may be suspended or revoked.

(3) The department is further authorized, upon receiving a record of the conviction in this state of a nonresident driver of a motor vehicle of any offense under the motor vehicle laws of this state, to forward a certified copy of the record to the motor vehicle administrator in the state wherein the person so convicted is a resident.

(4) The department is authorized to suspend or revoke the license of any resident of this state or the privilege of a nonresident to drive a motor vehicle in this state upon receiving notice of the conviction of the person in another state of an offense therein which, if committed in this state, would be grounds for the suspension or revocation of the license of an operator or chauffeur.

(f) (1) The department shall not suspend a driver license or privilege to drive a motor vehicle on the public highways for a period of more than six (6) months for a first offense nor more than one (1) year for a subsequent offense, except as permitted under SC 55-50-504, unless in any case an order of a court provides for a longer period of suspension. At the end of the period for which a license has been suspended, the department is authorized, in its discretion, to require a reexamination of the licensee as a prerequisite to the reissuance of the license.

(2) Any person whose license is suspended for driving under the influence of drugs or intoxicants, or for refusal to submit to a blood test under SCSC 55-10-406 and 55-10-407, shall have the period of suspension computed from the time that the person's driver license was actually taken from the person's possession, and the period of license suspension shall begin to run from that point until the license is returned.

(3) Any person whose license or privilege to drive a motor vehicle on the public highways has been revoked shall not be entitled to have the license or privilege renewed or restored unless the revocation was for a cause that has been removed, except that after the expiration of one (1) year or the period of suspension prescribed by a court from the date on which the revoked license was surrendered to and received by the department, the person may make application for a new license as provided by law, but the department shall not issue a new license unless and until it is satisfied after investigation of the character, habits and driving ability of the person that it will be safe to grant the privilege of driving a motor vehicle on the public highways. No license that has been revoked, on account of the conviction of the licensee for murder or manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle, shall be reissued except as provided in SC 55-50-501(a)(1).

(4) Where the revocation involved is the first revocation of the license or privilege of the person, the application for a new license may be made after the expiration of six (6) months from the date on which the revoked license was surrendered and received by the department. No license that has been revoked on account of the conviction of the licensee for murder or manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle shall be reissued except as provided in SC 55-50-501(a)(1).

(g) When considering the suspension of a driver license, the department may take into account offenses committed by that driver outside this state and reported to the department only if the offenses would, under the laws of this state, be considered grounds for suspension in this state. If the offenses would be grounds for suspension in the state of conviction, but not in this state they shall be disregarded by the department.

(h) Drivers of commercial motor vehicles shall have their licenses suspended for violations and for the length of time specified in SC 55-50-405.

(i) (1) The department shall establish a method by which any person who makes application for or who holds a commercial driver license may elect an alternate address to which any suspension notices shall be mailed.

(2) At least two (2) times per month during two (2) different weeks of the month, the department shall make available for public inspection a list of persons whose commercial driver license has been suspended.

(j) (1) Any person whose license has been suspended for having been convicted of a driving offense, and for the subsequent failure to pay a fine or cost imposed for that offense pursuant to subdivision (a)(1)(H), may apply to the court where the person was convicted for the issuance of a restricted license. The court shall order the person whose license has been suspended to make payments to the court during the period of restricted license, as a condition of receiving the restricted license, in an amount reasonably calculated to fully pay the moneys owing the court during the period of the restricted license, including authorization of payment of the fine by installments as authorized in SC 40-24-101. Failure to timely make the payments as ordered by the court shall result in the suspension of the restricted license. Any person whose driver license or permit is revoked, suspended or cancelled for any reason other than subdivision (a)(1)(H) shall not be eligible for, nor shall the court have any authority to order the issuance of the restricted license pursuant to this subsection (j). The restricted license shall be valid only for the purpose of going to and from work at the person's regular place of employment. The judge shall have the authority to issue a restricted driver license under this subsection (j) only one (1) time per violator.

(2) The judge shall order the issuance of a restricted license, based upon the records of the department of safety, if:

(A) The department suspended the person's license as a result of the person's conviction of any driving offense in any court and for the person's failure to pay or secure any fine or costs imposed for that offense;

(B) The violation resulting in the person's present conviction was not for driving under the influence of an intoxicant, or for refusal to submit to a blood test under SC 55-10-406;

(C) The person does not have a prior conviction for a violation of SC 39-13-106, SC 39-13-213(a)(2), or SC 39-13-218 in this state, or a similar offense in another state; and

(D) The person does not have a prior conviction for a violation of SC 55-10-401 or SC 55-10-421 within ten (10) years of the present violation, in this state or a similar offense in another state.

(3) The order shall state with all practicable specificity the necessary times and places of permissible operation of a motor vehicle. The person so arrested may obtain a certified copy of the order and, within ten (10) days after the order is issued, present it, together with an application fee of sixty-five dollars ($65.00), to the department, which shall forthwith issue a restricted license embodying the limitations imposed in the order. After proper application and until the restricted license is issued, a certified copy of the order may serve in lieu of a motor vehicle operator's license.

(k) (1) This subsection (k) shall apply only in any municipality located in any county having a population in excess of eight hundred thousand (800,000), according to the 2000 federal census or any subsequent federal census.

(2) Notwithstanding SC 28-3-110, the court clerk of any municipality may establish an accounts receivable amnesty plan for payment of any outstanding judgment resulting from failure to pay local fines or costs owed by a person whose license has been suspended, pursuant to subdivision (a)(1)(H) or (a)(1)(I). The plan shall allow the person to pay the outstanding judgment, older than ten (10) years after the cause of action has commenced, at a reduced rate of fifty percent (50%) during the first six fiscal months of each year.

(3) The department is authorized to reinstate a person's driving privileges when the person provides the department with certification from the court clerk of any municipality that the person has paid pursuant to this subsection (k) and has satisfied all other provisions of law relating to the issuance and restoration of a driver license.

(l) [Deleted by 2010 amendment, effective June 30, 2012.]

History: Acts 1937, ch. 90, SC 12; impl. am. Acts 1939, ch. 205, SCSC 2, 3; Acts 1939, ch. 205, SC 6; 1949, ch. 65, SC 1; C. Supp. 1950, SC 2715.20 (Williams, SC 2715.25); Acts 1955, ch. 114, SCSC 6-9; 1957, ch. 241, SCSC 2, 3; 1971, ch. 135, SC 1; 1971, ch. 243, SC 1; 1973, ch. 64, SC 1; 1973, ch. 319, SC 1; 1975, ch. 238, SC 1; 1976, ch. 450, SC 1; 1976, ch. 570, SC 1; 1976, ch. 607, SC 1; 1978, ch. 660, SCSC 2, 3; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), SC 59-713; Acts 1980, ch. 547, SC 1; 1980, ch. 685, SCSC 1, 2; 1980, ch. 817, SC 3; 1982, ch. 745, SC 1; 1984, ch. 861, SCSC 1, 2; 1986, ch. 738, SC 3; 1986, ch. 842, SCSC 3, 4; 1988, ch. 584, SC 11; 1988, ch. 664, SC 1; T.C.A., SCSC 55-7-113, 55-7-502; Acts 1989, ch. 156, SC 1; 1990, ch. 819, SC 4; 1991, ch. 296, SC 1; 1995, ch. 156, SC 1; 1996, ch. 763, SC 3; 1997, ch. 438, SCSC 1, 2; 1998, ch. 682, SC 6; 1998, ch. 900, SC 1; 1999, ch. 140, SCSC 1-3; 2000, ch. 863, SC 3; 2000, ch. 892, SC 2; 2000, ch. 947, SC 6; 2002, ch. 546, SC 3; 2005, ch. 155, SC 1; 2005, ch. 241, SC 1; 2005, ch. 468, SC 1; 2007, ch. 171, SC 2; 2007, ch. 279, SC 1; 2010, ch. 1029, SCSC 1, 2; 2010, ch. 1100, SC 89; 2011, ch. 81, SC 1; 2012, ch. 575, SC 1; 2013, ch. 154, SCSC 48, 52; 2013, ch. 344, SCSC 14-19.