A federal judge ruled in October that the State of Tennessee can no longer revoke driver’s licenses due to non-payment of traffic fines. This builds on a ruling from July 2017 that ordered the state to stop suspending driver’s licenses due to unpaid court costs. Both orders also call for the reinstatement of driver’s licenses that have been revoked because of unpaid traffic fines and court costs. Neither automatically reinstate revoked licenses, instead, people must apply for it.

The injunctions are in response to class action lawsuits filed by Just City of Memphis, the law firm Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & BerkowitzCivil Rights Corp and the National Center for Law and Economic Justice. The State of Tennessee is currently appealing the July order on court costs, but is still complying with the preliminary injunction to stop revocation and to reinstate licenses revoked because of unpaid court debt. Additionally, the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office announced in October that it has stopped prosecuting cases involving drivers whose licenses are revoked for owing fines.



There are several ways to determine if you are eligible*

  • Call 866-903-7357. This number is for a state reinstatement center. It’s their job to help you determine if you’re eligible to have your driver’s license reinstated, and if you are, help you get it back. Someone should answer calls to that number Monday through Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. CST. The number will be busy, so keep calling if you can’t get through to someone immediately.
  • Visit this websitedl.safety.tn.gov. You’ll need to fill out a short form, so have your Social Security number and driver’s license number (if you know it) handy. The website will help you determine if you’re eligible for reinstatement.
  • Go to an in-person reinstatement center. A full list is available online at the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s website.

*Information provided by The Tennessean



Tennessee can’t revoke driver licenses of people who can’t pay traffic fines, judge says via The Tennessean

Shelby County DA’s office stops prosecuting many cases of driving with a revoked license via The Commercial Appeal

Judge: Tennessee can’t revoke driver’s licenses from people who can’t pay court costs via The Tennessean

Being Poor Can Mean Losing a Driver’s License. Not Anymore in Tennessee via The New York Times