You may be familiar with the moment, while driving in your vehicle, that you see those blue lights and hear that siren. And your first thought is something along the lines of “Wow! I hope that’s not for me.”
For the uninitiated, the question of what happens after getting a traffic ticket can be a scary unknown. For some minor offenses in Tennessee, the driver may simply pay a fine and move on. However, more serious violations can have repercussions that require further consideration and warrant the assistance of an attorney.
How Many Points Will Result in Suspension of My Driver’s License?
Tennessee has a points system for drivers. Accruing too many points in a specified period of time will result in your license being suspended. In Tennessee, the rule is 12 points in any 12-month period.[i] The number of points assigned against the license depends on what the traffic offense is. Click here to see a list of point values for various traffic violations.
Should I Fight a Traffic Ticket or Just Pay It?
For the driver pulled over for a standard speeding offense, the best option may be to plead guilty, attend the court hearing, pay the fine and try not to get another traffic ticket for the foreseeable future. However, for other drivers the consequences of a traffic conviction or the facts of the case warrant fighting the ticket.
For example, in a case where the highway patrol claims a driver was driving at the speed of 95mph in a 55mph zone (40mph over the speed limit), and the driver admits he was speeding but maintains that the fastest he was going was around 70mph, it may make sense for that driver to contest the ticket. In such a scenario the driver may request the dashcam footage from the stop, which may or may not help in defense of the ticket. Prior to attending a traffic court hearing, the driver should always compile the evidence he wishes to present during the hearing.
What Should I Expect At a Traffic Court Hearing?
Most counties in Tennessee only hold traffic court on occasion, perhaps once or twice a month. More rural counties may schedule sessions less often while the largest counties could have a near daily traffic court. There will be numerous drivers at the hearing. There will also be several police officers at the hearing, likely some from the highway patrol and some county sheriff deputies. These police officers often have twenty (20) or more tickets that they are at the hearing for. Since they have so many cases, usually the police officer is not going to remember the specific facts of your case other than what s/he reads in the written report.
The Judge or the Judge’s assistant will call the cases one at a time. When your case is called, you should come forward and state to the Judge that you are present. if you are fortunate enough not to be called first, I encourage you to observe the interactions of the Judge with the other defendants. Try to analyze the situation a bit and see if the Judge shows any compassion to some of the drivers or is essentially treating everyone the same. See if the facts of any of those cases are comparable to yours.
When you are on the stand, you may act as your own attorney and question the police officer. Points you may want to question the police officer on are how s/he was able to identify that you committed the violation, how positive s/he is of the listed speed on the report, when the laser in use was last calibrated, if there was another car that could have been driving at that speed and you were in fact driving slower, etc.
You may also use this opportunity to address the Judge and let him know if you did commit the offense and let the Judge know of any mitigating or extenuating circumstances that existed. For example, speeding to get someone who is injured to the hospital is much different than speeding for no specific reason.
What If the Judge Gives Me An Online Traffic School Option?
In general, the Judges have some discretion to sentence drivers to an online traffic school course. This means that if the driver completes the course within the time limit and provides the course completion certificate to the Court, there will be no fine or points on the license. This is advantageous because it prevents any points from accumulating on the driver’s license. The driver should still expect to pay court costs.
If you have received a traffic ticket and believe the ticket to be incorrect, unfair, unjust, or you just want to fight the ticket in court, feel free to call Cole Law Group at 615-490-6020 and we will be happy to speak with you about your case. Stay safe on our Tennessee roads!