The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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Failure to Appear in Court for Traffic Violation

Reference Number: MTAS-310
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: September 24, 2016
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Failure to Appear for a Traffic Violation
The Tennessee Department of Safety will suspend the driving privileges of violators who fail to appear in court or satisfy a citation prior to court. Occasionally, a defendant will appear in court but neglect to pay fines or costs. This is called “failure to satisfy a citation,” and it should be treated the same as failing to appear in court. Tennessee has an interstate compact with most other states that deals with violators who fail to satisfy citations they receive in a state other than the one in which they live. If an out-of-state resident receives a traffic citation while traveling through Tennessee and fails to satisfy that citation, the Tennessee Department of Safety will notify the other state, and the other state will suspend the driver’s driving privileges. The same holds true for Tennessee residents who fail to satisfy a citation received in another state.

Failure to Appear (FTA) is when a defendant did not appear in court at the designated time and date. When a defendant fails to appear for court the clerk should submit a court action report reflecting a “Failure to Appear (FTA).

Failure to Satisfy (FTS) indicates the defendant did appear in court, but did not do all of the things ordered by the court (such as payment of fines, payment of costs, or completion of a traffic school). If a defendant asks for additional time to pay, the court should submit a Court Action Report indicating that the defendant plead or was found guilty. If the defendant does not ultimately pay the citation, the court should send another court action report indicating the defendant “Failed to Satisfy” the citation (FTS). 

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