2017 Tennessee Code
Title 55 - Motor and Other Vehicles
Chapter 9 - Equipment -- Lighting Regulations
Part 6 - Safety Belts
§ 55-9-603. Use of safety belts in passenger vehicles -- Violations -- Penalties -- Arrest -- Applicability.

Universal Citation: TN Code § 55-9-603 (2017)
  • (a)
    • (1) No person shall operate a passenger motor vehicle on any highway, as defined in § 55-8-101, in this state unless the person and all passengers four (4) years of age or older are restrained by a safety belt at all times the vehicle is in forward motion.
    • (2) No person four (4) years of age or older shall be a passenger in a passenger motor vehicle on any highway, as defined in § 55-8-101, in this state, unless the person is restrained by a safety belt at all times the vehicle is in forward motion.
  • (b)
    • (1) This section shall apply only to the operator and all passengers occupying the front seat of a passenger motor vehicle.
    • (2) If the vehicle is equipped with a rear seat that is capable of folding, this section shall only apply to front seat passengers and the operator if the back seat is in the fold down position.
  • (c) As used in this section, unless specified otherwise, "passenger car" or "passenger motor vehicle" does not include any motor vehicle that is used as a public or livery conveyance for passengers or any motor vehicles that are not required by federal law to be equipped with safety belts, except autocycles as defined in § 55-1-103.
  • (d)
    • (1) A violation of this section is a Class C misdemeanor. All proceeds from the fines imposed by this subsection (d), except as otherwise provided by subdivisions (d)(2) and (3), shall be deposited in the state general fund and designated for the exclusive use of the division of vocational rehabilitation to assist eligible individuals with disabilities, as defined in § 49-11-602, who have been severely injured in motor vehicle accidents.
    • (2)
      • (A) A person charged with a violation of this section may, in lieu of appearance in court, submit a fine of thirty dollars ($30.00) for a first violation, and fifty-five dollars ($55.00) for a second or subsequent violation to the clerk of the court that has jurisdiction of the offense within the county in which the offense charged is alleged to have been committed.
      • (B) The revenue generated by fifteen dollars ($15.00) of the thirty-dollar fine in subdivision (d)(2)(A) for a person's first conviction shall be deposited in the state general fund without being designated for any specific purpose. Ten dollars ($10.00) of the thirty-dollar fine for the person's first conviction under subdivision (d)(2)(A) shall be deposited in the state general fund and designated for the exclusive use of the division of vocational rehabilitation to assist eligible individuals with disabilities, as defined in § 49-11-602, who have been severely injured in motor vehicle accidents. The remaining five dollars ($5.00) of the thirty-dollar fine for the person's first conviction under subdivision (d)(2)(A) shall be retained by the court clerk.
      • (C) The revenue generated by thirty dollars ($30.00) of the fifty-five-dollar fine under subdivision (d)(2)(A) for a person's second or subsequent conviction shall be deposited in the state general fund without being designated for any specific purpose. Twenty dollars ($20.00) of the fifty-five-dollar fine for the person's second or subsequent conviction under subdivision (d)(2)(A) shall be deposited in the state general fund and designated for the exclusive use of the division of vocational rehabilitation to assist eligible individuals with disabilities, as defined in § 49-11-602, who have been severely injured in motor vehicle accidents. The remaining five dollars ($5.00) of the fifty-five-dollar fine for the person's second or subsequent conviction under subdivision (d)(2)(A) shall be retained by the court clerk.
    • (3)
      • (A) Notwithstanding subdivision (d)(2), a person charged with a violation of subsection (i) may, in lieu of appearance in court, submit a fine of thirty dollars ($30.00) to the clerk of the court that has jurisdiction of the offense within the county in which the offense charged is alleged to have been committed.
      • (B) Notwithstanding subdivision (d)(2), the revenue generated by fifteen dollars ($15.00) of the thirty-dollar fine under subdivision (d)(3)(A) for a person's first conviction under subsection (i) shall be deposited in the state general fund without being designated for any specific purpose. Ten dollars ($10.00) of the thirty-dollar fine for the person's first conviction under subsection (i) shall be deposited in the state general fund and designated for the exclusive use of the division of vocational rehabilitation to assist eligible individuals with disabilities, as defined in § 49-11-602, who have been severely injured in motor vehicle accidents. The remaining five dollars ($5.00) of the thirty-dollar fine for the person's first conviction under subsection (i) shall be retained by the court clerk.
      • (C) The revenue generated by five dollars ($5.00) of the thirty-dollar fine under subdivision (d)(3)(A) for a person's second or subsequent conviction under subsection (i) shall be deposited in the state general fund without being designated for any specific purpose. Twenty dollars ($20.00) of the thirty-dollar fine for the person's second or subsequent conviction under subsection (i) shall be deposited in the state general fund and designated for the exclusive use of the division of vocational rehabilitation to assist eligible individuals with disabilities, as defined in § 49-11-602, who have been severely injured in motor vehicle accidents. The remaining five dollars ($5.00) of the thirty-dollar fine for the person's second or subsequent conviction under subsection (i) shall be retained by the court clerk.
  • (e) Except as otherwise provided by subdivisions (d)(2) and (3), no clerk's fee nor court costs, including, but not limited to, any statutory fees of officers, shall be imposed or assessed against anyone convicted of a violation of this section. No litigation tax levied pursuant to title 67, chapter 4, part 6, shall be imposed or assessed against anyone convicted of a violation of this section.
  • (f)
    • (1) A law enforcement officer observing a violation of this section shall issue a citation to the violator, but shall not arrest or take into custody any person solely for a violation of this section.
    • (2) The department of safety shall not report any convictions under this section except for law enforcement or governmental purposes.
  • (g) In no event shall a violation of this section be assigned a point value for suspension or revocation of a license by the department of safety, nor shall the violation be construed as any other offense under this title.
  • (h) This section does not apply to:
    • (1) A passenger or operator with a physical disability which prevents appropriate restraint in a safety seat or safety belt; provided, that the condition is duly certified in writing by a physician who shall state the nature of the disability, as well as the reason a restraint is inappropriate;
    • (2) A passenger motor vehicle operated by a rural letter carrier of the United States postal service while performing the duties of a rural letter carrier;
    • (3) Salespersons or mechanics employed by an automobile dealer who, in the course of their employment, test-drive a motor vehicle, if the dealership customarily test-drives fifty (50) or more motor vehicles a day, and if the test-drives occur within one (1) mile of the location of the dealership;
    • (4) Water, gas, and electric meter readers, and utility workers, while the meter reader or utility worker is:
      • (A) Emerging from and reentering a vehicle at frequent intervals; and
      • (B) Operating the vehicle at speeds not exceeding forty miles per hour (40 mph);
    • (5) A newspaper delivery motor carrier service while performing the duties of a newspaper delivery motor carrier service; provided, that this exemption shall only apply from the time of the actual first delivery to the customer until the last actual delivery to the customer;
    • (6) A vehicle in use in a parade if operated at less than fifteen miles per hour (15 mph);
    • (7) A vehicle in use in a hayride if operated at less than fifteen miles per hour (15 mph);
    • (8) A vehicle crossing a highway from one field to another if operated at less than fifteen miles per hour (15 mph); or
    • (9) An ADS or an ADS-operated vehicle. Except as otherwise provided by § 55-9-606(2), for purposes of an ADS-operated vehicle, a passenger or human operator required to be restrained by a safety belt pursuant to this section is solely responsible for the passenger's or human operator's compliance with such requirement.
  • (i)
    • (1) Notwithstanding this section to the contrary, no person between sixteen (16) years of age and up to and through the age of seventeen (17) years of age, shall operate a passenger motor vehicle, or be a passenger therein, unless the person is restrained by a safety belt at all times the vehicle is in forward motion.
    • (2) Notwithstanding subdivision (b)(1), this subsection (i) shall apply to all occupants between sixteen (16) years of age and eighteen (18) years of age occupying any seat in a passenger motor vehicle.
    • (3) Notwithstanding subdivision (f)(1), a law enforcement officer observing a violation of this subsection (i) shall issue a citation to the violator, but shall not arrest or take into custody any person solely for a violation of this subsection (i).
  • (j) Notwithstanding subsection (b), no person with a learner permit or an intermediate driver license shall operate a passenger motor vehicle in this state unless the person and all passengers between the ages of four (4) and seventeen (17) years of age are restrained by a safety belt at all times the vehicle is in forward motion.
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