Tennessee

Highway safety laws differ from state to state. The summary information here can be used to compare laws in specific categories. We monitor legislative changes and update this information as needed.

DUI/DWI
BAC defined as illegal per se 0.08
Administrative license suspension 1st offense? no
Restore driving privileges during suspension? not applicable
RESTRICTIONS ON CELLPHONE USE AND TEXTING
Hand-held ban no
Young drivers all cellphone ban learner's permit and intermediate license holders
Texting ban all drivers
Enforcement primary
MAXIMUM POSTED SPEED LIMITS
Rural interstates (mph) 70
Urban interstates (mph) 70
Other limited access roads (mph) 70
Other roads (mph) 65
YOUNG DRIVER LICENSING SYSTEMS
To get a learners license you must:
Have a minimum age of 151
YOUNG DRIVER LICENSING SYSTEMS
Before getting a license or restricted license you must:
Have a mandatory holding period of 6 months
Have a minimum supervised driving time of 50 hours, 10 of which must be at night1
Have a minimum age of 16
YOUNG DRIVER LICENSING SYSTEMS
Restrictions during intermediate or restricted license stage:
Nighttime restrictions 11 p.m.-6 a.m.
Passenger restrictions

(family members excepted unless otherwise noted)
no more than 1 passenger
YOUNG DRIVER LICENSING SYSTEMS
Minimum age at which restrictions may be lifted:
Nighttime restrictions 17
Passenger restrictions 17
REGULAR LICENSING RENEWAL CYCLE
Length of regular renewal cycle 5 years
OLDER DRIVER SPECIAL LICENSING PROVISIONS
Accelerated renewal none
Other provisions none that are safety related2
CHILD RESTRAINTS
Must be in child restraint younger than 1 year or 20 pounds or less in a rear-facing infant seat; 1 through 3 years and 20+ pounds in a forward-facing infant seat; 4 through 8 years and less than 4'9" in a booster seat
Adult safety belt permissible 9 through 15 years or any child 12 or younger who is 4'9" or taller
Maximum fine 1st offense $50
Seating preference children 8 years and younger and less than 4'9" must be in rear seat if available; rear seat recommended for children 9 through 12
Children not covered all children covered
SAFETY BELT USE
Initial effective date 04/21/86
Standard enforcement? yes; effective 07/01/04
Who is covered? In what seats? 16+ years in front seat
Maximum fine 1st offense $503
Can nonuse decrease monetary awards for injuries in lawsuits? no
MOTORCYCLE HELMET USE
Motorcyclists covered all riders
BICYCLE HELMET USE
Covered by state law 15 and younger
PICKUP TRUCKS: RESTRICTIONS ON RIDING IN CARGO AREAS
Restrictions on riding in cargo areas yes
Gaps in coverage people 12 and older; people 6-11 in a vehicle being operated off the interstate or state highway system; parades if vehicle going less than 20 mph; agricultural activities; or on city or county roads unless prohibited by local ordinance or resolution
LOW-SPEED VEHICLES
On which roads are low-speed vehicles permitted? roads with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less
What is the top speed permissible for low-speed vehicles? 25 mph
MEDIUM-SPEED VEHICLES
On which roads are medium-speed vehicles permitted? roads with a posted limit of 40 mph or less
What is the top speed permissible for medium-speed vehicles? 35 mph
MINITRUCKS
Initial effective date 07/01/08
Where permitted streets where the posted speed limit is less than 40 mph; a county or municipality may prohibit the operation of medium-speed vehicles on any road under its jurisdiction if the governing body of the county or municipality determines that such a prohibition is necessary in the interest of safety
Speed restrictions 35 mph
Vehicle classification under state law mini-truck
AUTOMATED ENFORCEMENT: OTHER VIOLATIONS
Statewide or only specified locations? statewide except for interstate highways that are not work zones
Violations traffic violation; right turn on red violations limited to signed intersections
Citations issued to whom? registered owner
Who is liable? registered owner
What image is taken? red light violations, front tires before the stop line and rear tires past stop line both while signal is red
Traditional enforcement penalty $50 fine/points
Auto enforcement penalties/record $50; no points

1Learner’s permit holders in Tennessee may not drive from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

2In Tennessee, fees are reduced for drivers 60 and older and licenses issued to people 65 and older do not expire.

3Drivers 18 and older in Tennessee who choose not to contest the citation pay a $10 fine by mail; drivers who are 16 or 17 pay $20.