2016 Tennessee Code
Title 55 - Motor and Other Vehicles
Chapter 10 - Accidents, Arrests, Crimes and Penalties
Part 2 - Crimes
§ 55-10-207. Traffic citation in lieu of arrest.

TN Code § 55-10-207 (2016) What's This?

(a) As used in this section, "traffic citation" means a written citation or an electronic citation prepared by a law enforcement officer on paper or on an electronic data device with the intent the citation shall be filed, electronically or otherwise, with a court having jurisdiction over the alleged offense.

(b) (1) Whenever a person is arrested for a violation of any provision of chapter 8, 9, 10 or 50 of this title or § 55-12-139, or chapter 52, part 2 of this title, punishable as a misdemeanor, and the person is not required to be taken before a magistrate or judge as provided in § 55-10-203, the arresting officer shall issue a traffic citation to the person in lieu of arrest, continued custody and the taking of the arrested person before a magistrate, except as provided in subsection (h).

(2) A law enforcement officer at the scene of a traffic accident may issue a traffic citation to the driver or drivers of any vehicles involved in the accident when, based on personal investigation, the officer has reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the person or persons have committed an offense under chapter 8, 9, 10 or 50 of this title.

(3) Whenever a person is arrested for a violation of any provision of chapter 4, part 4 of this title that is punishable as a misdemeanor, the arresting officer may issue a traffic citation to the person in lieu of arrest, continued custody and the taking of the arrested person before a magistrate.

(c) (1) The traffic citation shall demand the person cited to appear in court at a stated time and it shall state the name and address of the person cited, the name of the issuing officer, and the offense charged. Unless the person cited requests an earlier date, the time specified on the traffic citation to appear shall be as fixed by the arresting officer. The traffic citation shall give notice to the person cited that failure to appear as ordered is punishable as contempt of court. The traffic citation delivered to the court shall be sworn to by the issuing officer before a magistrate or official lawfully assigned this duty by a magistrate. The person cited shall signify the acceptance of the traffic citation and the agreement to appear in court as directed by signing the citation.

(2) Any traffic citation prepared as a paper copy shall be executed in triplicate, the original to be delivered to the court specified therein, one (1) copy to be given to the person cited, and one (1) copy to be retained by the officer issuing the citation.

(3) Replicas of traffic citation data sent by electronic transmission shall be sent within three (3) days of the issuance of the citation to the court having jurisdiction over the alleged offense. Any person issued a traffic citation prepared by a law enforcement officer electronically shall be provided with a paper copy of the traffic citation. A law enforcement officer who files a citation electronically shall be considered to have certified the citation and has the same rights, responsibilities, and liabilities as other citations issued pursuant to this section.

(d) Whenever a traffic citation has been prepared, accepted, and the original citation delivered to the court as provided herein, the original citation delivered to the court shall constitute a complaint to which the person cited must answer and the officer issuing the citation shall not be required to file any other affidavit of complaint with the court.

(e) (1) Each court clerk shall charge and collect an electronic traffic citation fee of five dollars ($5.00) for each traffic citation resulting in a conviction. Such fee shall be assessable as court costs and paid by the defendant for any offense cited in a traffic citation delivered that results in a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, or a judgment of guilty. This fee shall be in addition to all other fees, taxes and charges. One dollar ($1.00) of such fee shall be retained by the court clerk. The remaining four dollars ($4.00) of the fee shall be transmitted monthly by the court clerk to the law enforcement agency that prepared the traffic citation that resulted in a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, or a judgment of guilty.

(2) All funds derived from the electronic traffic citation fee that are transmitted to the law enforcement agency that prepared the traffic citation pursuant to subdivision (e)(1) shall be accounted for in a special revenue fund of such law enforcement agency and may only be used for the following purposes:

(A) Electronic citation system and program related expenditures; and

(B) Related expenditures by such local law enforcement agency for technology, equipment, repairs, replacement and training to maintain electronic citation programs.

(3) All funds derived from the electronic citation fee set aside for court clerks pursuant to subdivision (e)(1) shall be used for computer hardware purchases, usual and necessary computer related expenses, or replacement. Such funds shall be preserved for those purposes and shall not revert to the general fund at the end of a budget year if unexpended.

(4) The local legislative body of any county or municipality may, by majority vote, adopt a resolution or ordinance to authorize a county or municipal court clerk to charge and collect electronic traffic citation fees pursuant to this subsection (e). Any electronic traffic citation fee imposed pursuant to an ordinance or resolution under this subdivision (e)(4) shall terminate five (5) years from the date on which the ordinance or resolution is adopted.

(f) Prior to the time set for the person to appear in court to answer the charge, the person cited may elect not to contest the charge and may, in lieu of appearance in court, submit the fine and costs to the clerk of the court. The submission to fine must be with the approval of the court that has jurisdiction of the offense within the county in which the offense charged is alleged to have been committed. The submission to fine shall not otherwise be exclusive of any other method or procedure prescribed by law for disposition of a traffic citation that may be issued for a violation of any provision of this chapter or chapter 8, 9, or 50 of this title or § 55-12-139 or chapter 4, part 4 of this title.

(g) If the person cited has not paid the traffic citation upon submission to fine as provided in this section and the person cited fails to appear in court at the time specified, or such later date as may be fixed by the court, the court may issue a warrant for the person's arrest or may declare a judgment of forfeiture for the offense charged. The judgment of forfeiture shall in no case be more than the total amount of fine and costs prescribed by law for the offense and may be collected in the manner provided in § 40-24-105.

(h) (1) This section shall not be applicable to any person arrested for a violation of any of the offenses enumerated in § 55-10-203, or to any person arrested for a violation of any provision of this chapter or chapter 8, 9 or 50 of this title that is punishable by a fine of more than fifty dollars ($50.00) or by imprisonment for more than thirty (30) days. This section shall not supersede § 40-7-118, nor shall it require the use of a traffic citation in lieu of arrest in any of the circumstances specified in § 40-7-118(c).

(2) This section shall not be applicable to a person who is subject to arrest pursuant to § 55-10-119.

(i) Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, all traffic citations used in Tennessee shall contain, as a minimum, the following information:

(1) Citation number;

(2) Violator's first name, middle name or middle initial, last name and date of birth;

(3) Violator's driver license number, state of issuance and class of the license;

(4) Whether or not the license is a commercial driver license;

(5) The vehicle make, model, year, color, and owner;

(6) The license plate number, year, and state of issuance;

(7) Whether or not the vehicle is a commercial motor vehicle;

(8) Whether or not the vehicle is transporting hazardous materials requiring placards;

(9) Whether or not the vehicle can transport sixteen (16) or more passengers;

(10) The offense committed, including the date and time, if applicable;

(11) The location of the offense;

(12) The issuing officer's name, rank, badge/ID number, and employing agency; and

(13) The time, date, location, and court where the offense will be heard.

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