This legislation requires Tennessee courts to conduct an ability to pay hearing before suspending a driver’s license for failure to pay fines and fees.
After experimenting with this policy for about two months, Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich has permanently adopted a policy of declining to prosecute driving on a suspended license in cases where the license was suspended or revoked for nonpayment of fines and fees.
In Tennessee, Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk announced that he will stop prosecuting driver's license violations that result from failure to pay fines and fees, such as driving on a suspended license. His office predicts that this policy change could keep 12,000 charges out of Nashville courtrooms over the next year.
This Tennessee House Bill would have established the Court fee and tax advisory council.
In November 2015, McNeil pled guilty to driving with a revoked license. She was placed on probation for 11 months and 29 days and ordered to pay $426 in fines and fees, $25 each week in court costs and fines, $45 a month in supervision fees, and $45 for each drug test.
Community Probation Services, LLC and PSI Probation, LLC, for-profit probation companies, provide probation services for Giles County, Tennessee. The companies add their own fees and surcharges to the court debts of probationers.
The author conducted qualitative research to assess the effect of private probation on people under parole supervision for misdemeanor offenses in Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee. In some of these states, private parole officers have the authority to control critical aspects of a person’s parole terms.
County Clerks in Tennessee automatically suspend the driver’s license of persons who fail to pay their traffic debt within a 30-90 day window.
This bill creates a mechanism for Tennessee drivers who have unpaid court debt to keep their licenses from being revoked on that basis.
In misdemeanor and felony cases, Tennessee automatically revoked a person’s driver’s license if they failed to pay court fines and fees one year after they were imposed.