Tennessee Governor Lee has signed into law an amendment repealing the Tennessee Motor Vehicle Habitual Offender Law (Tennessee Code Annotated 55-10-601, et seq.), more commonly known as the Tennessee Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender Law (HMVO). Previously, those who qualified as habitual offenders were required to have their driver’s license revoked without any opportunity to drive on a restricted license. This meant that those who were declared habitual offenders were not allowed to drive at all for at least 3 years. Ignoring this prohibition against driving was a Class E felony, with a potential sentence of 1-6 years in the state penitentiary.
With this change in the law, as of January 1, 2020 (and perhaps earlier), this law will no longer be in effect. However, those who have had their driver’s license revoked due to the Tennessee Motor Vehicle Habitual Offender law will still need to petition the court that revoked their license in order to regain reinstatement of their driver’s license. If the court determines the driver’s license was revoked solely due to the person’s status as a motor vehicle habitual offender, the court shall order the reinstatement of the person’s driver’s license and the proper procedures must be followed.
This is a huge change in Tennessee law and will help all of those who are currently unable to legally drive to and from work and other places of necessity.
The relevant section of law is copied below for the convenience of the readers of this blog. However, it is strongly advised to consult with a lawyer to ensure one is not violating the law.
“A person whose driver license has been revoked or restricted due solely to the person’s status as a motor vehicle habitual offender prior to July 1, 2019, may petition the court that originally made such a finding to reinstate the person’s driver license. Upon receiving a petition for a reinstated driver license, the court shall determine whether the person’s driver license was subject to revocation or restriction under prior law due solely to the person’s status as a motor vehicle habitual offender and, if so, order the reinstatement of the person’s driver license. The person may provide a copy of the court’s order to the department of safety, which shall then reissue the person’s driver license without restriction.”
If you need to obtain the reinstatement if your driver’s license, be certain to first consult with an attorney qualified to assist you in this area of law. Even though the Tennessee Motor Vehicle Habitual Offender Law may have changed, there is still a prohibition about driving on a revoked license. Remember, it is illegal for you to drive unless and until you have a current valid driver’s license.
About the Author: Steven Oberman has been licensed in Tennessee since 1980, and successfully defended over 2,500 DUI defendants. Among the many honors bestowed upon him, Steve served as Dean of the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. (NCDD) and currently serves as chair of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers DUI Committee. Steve was the first lawyer in Tennessee to be Board Certified as a DUI Defense Specialist by the NCDD.
He is the author of DUI: The Crime & Consequences in Tennessee, updated annually since 1991 (Thomson-West), and co-author with Lawrence Taylor of the national treatise, Drunk Driving Defense, 8th edition (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen). Steve has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Tennessee Law School since 1993 and has received a number of prestigious awards for his faculty contributions. He is a popular international speaker, having spoken at legal seminars in 30 states, the District of Columbia and three foreign countries. In 2019, he was honored to be named a Fulbright Scholar and taught at the University of Latvia Law School as an Adjunct Professor during the Spring Semester in 2019.
If you would like to contact the author, please visit his website.