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Can Unpaid Court Costs Suspend Your Driver’s License in TN?

DrivingFor years, many Memphians and Tennesseans have suffered the consequences of driving with a suspended driver’s license due to unpaid court costs from previous criminal citations. In a lawsuit filed against Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, as well as various court clerks and other government officials, multiple plaintiffs allege that nearly 300,000 people in Tennessee have had their driving privileges suspended due to unpaid court costs.

READ MORE: Lawsuit Against State of Tennessee Alleges Unpaid Court Costs Should Not Lead to A Suspended Driver’s License

How Do I Get My License Reinstated?

In helping hundreds of clients with legal matters throughout the years, the Chiozza Law Firm has seen the pain and inconvenience that this type of suspension can cause to a client and his or her family. We do not believe that a city court or criminal court should have the ability to suspend a resident’s driving privileges for unpaid and exorbitant court costs. The majority of these people are not criminals. They are simply people who don't have the extra money to pay expensive traffic fines and court costs. Thankfully, a recent ruling by a federal court has ruled that it is unconstitutional for the State of Tennessee to maintain this practice.

READ MORE: Federal Judge Rules Tennessee Can't Revoke Driver's Licenses From People Who Can't Pay Court Costs

The ruling states that any Tennessee resident whose driving privileges have been suspended solely for unpaid court costs can have said privileges reinstated immediately. If your suspension is related to prior offenses or revocations, then you can contact the Department of Safety to determine reinstatement eligibility.

In October 2018, while this ruling was being appealed by The State of Tennessee, a federal judge granted the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction in the case. The state no longer has the ability to revoke a person's drivers license just because they couldn't afford to pay the fine for a traffic ticket. 

The criminal defense attorneys at The Chiozza Law Firm strongly recommend you contact us to discuss your rights and options in securing a valid driver’s license. If you qualify, this is a wonderful opportunity to get back on your feet and obtain a valid driver’s license.   

Get My Tennessee Driver's License Reinstated


If you have questions about your license in general, and you are in Memphis, we recommend you also call the Drive While You Pay and Amnesty Program run by the Memphis City Court Clerk. They can be reached at 901-636-3405 or online. This allows you to pay a down payment and a portion of what you owe on a payment plan in exchange for getting your license reinstated. For those outside the Mid-South area, we recommend you explore your reinstatement options here as outlined by www.DMV.org.

The Chiozza Law Firm has had the privilege and honor of representing clients in every type of legal matter. We take pride in knowing that one of our attorneys is willing to assist with everything from a simple speeding ticket to complex product liability claims.  

Call 901-526-9494 to speak with an attorney or feel free to drop by our office, conveniently located in the heart of downtown Memphis. No appointment is necessary, and all consultations are confidential and free of charge.



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Posted by Brian Chiozza at 7:00 AM
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