Tennessee Speeding Laws

Penalty for Exceeding Speed Limit

A first time violator may be:

  • fined not more than $50,
  • sentenced to jail time of not more than 30 days, and
  • the violator’s license may be suspended not more than six months.

Penalty for Reckless Driving

A first time violator may be:

  • fined not more than $500,
  • sentenced to jail time of not more than sox months, and
  • the violator’s license may be suspended not more than six months.

Speed Limits

  • 70 MPH for on interstate highways
  • 65 MPH on all other highways or roads

Tennessee Speeding Laws

Tennessee has what is known as an “absolute” speed limit law. There is no trick to how this works: If the sign says 40 mph and you drive 41 mph or more, you have violated the law. In other words, you are guilty if you drive over the speed limit. In Tennessee you may be able to make three possible defenses:

  • Attacking the officer’s determination of your speed. To do this you must discover what method the officer used to cite you and then learn about the ways to attack that particular method.
  • Claiming an emergency forced you to exceed the speed limit to avoid serious damage or injury to yourself or others.
  • Claiming that the officer mistook your car for another car. With so many similar-looking cars, it is possible that a cop could see a speeding car, lose sight of it around a corner, and then wrongly pick out your car farther down the road.

Note that in Tennessee you can be ticketed for driving at an unsafe speed, even if that speed does not violate the posted limit -- for example, driving exactly at the maximum mph posted limit on the freeway amidst slower and heavy traffic, in a dense fog, or in a driving rainstorm or blizzard.

Point System

An offender, who for the first time accumulates 12 points within 12 month, is subject to either a 6-month license suspension or a driver improvement program. After the offender completes this program, they are placed on administrative probation for 12 months. Note: A first offender is a driver who has not had their license suspend and who has not been taken the driver improvement program within the previous 5 years. An offender, who for the second or subsequent time accumulates 12 points within 12 month, is subject to a 6-month license suspension. However, if the offender has completed driver improvement program within the previous 5 years, the suspension is for 12 months. Such persons may be required to attend a driver improvement program. However, participation in this program is not in lieu of license suspension.

The following points have been assigned for speeding and speed related offenses: Speeding violations where the vehicles' speed was not noted on the citations-3 points; exceeding the speed limit 1 through 5 MPH-1 point; exceeding the speed limit 6 through 15 MPH-3 points; exceeding the speed limit 16 through 25 MPH-4 points; exceeding the speed limit 26 through 35 MPH-5 points exceeding the speed limit 36 through 45 MPH-6 points; exceeding the speed limit by 46 or more MPH-8 points; reckless driving-6 points; driving less the posted minimum speed limit-3 points; careless or negligent driving (Note: This is a municipal ordinance violation)-4 points; and, reckless endangerment by vehicle-8 points.

The following points have been assigned for speeding in a construction zone: Speeding violations where the vehicle's speed was not noted on the citation-3 points; exceeding the speed limit 1 through 5 MPH-2 points; exceeding the speed limit 6 through 15 MPH-6 points; exceeding the speed limit 16 through 35 MPH-7 points; and, exceeding the speed limit by 36 or more MPH-8 points. V. The following points have been assigned for speeding in a commercial vehicle: Speeding violations where the vehicle's speed was not noted on the citations-4 points; exceeding the speed limit 1 through 5 MPH-2 points; exceeding the speed limit 6 through 14 MPH-4 points; exceeding the speed limit 15 through 25 MPH-6 points; exceeding the speed limit 26 through 35 MPH-7 points; and, exceeding the speed limit by 36 or more MPH-8 points.

The following points have been assigned for speeding in a construction zone by a commercial vehicle: Speeding violations where the vehicle's speed was not noted on the citations-4 points; exceeding the speed limit 1 through 5 MPH-2 points; and, exceeding the speed limit 6 through 14 MPH-5 points. For all other offenses, 3 points are assigned to a person’s driving record. 

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