As of July 1, 2020, Tennessee joins 42 other states in the Interstate Driver License Compact. According to the National Center for Interstate Compacts, The Driver License Compact is an interstate compact used by States of the United States to exchange information concerning license suspensions and traffic violations of non-residents and forward them to the state where they [the offenders] are licensed—known as the home state. Its theme is “One Driver, One License, One Record.”
The home state would treat the offense as if it had been committed at home, applying home state laws to the out-of-state offense. The action taken would include, but not be limited to, points assessed on a minor offense such as speeding and suspension of license or a major violation such as DWI/DUI. It is not supposed to include non-moving violations like parking tickets, tinted windows, loud exhaust, etc.
According to the law’s original sponsor, Tennessee State Senator Becky Duncan Massey, the measure requires the state to report convictions to an offender’s home state when it involves manslaughter, negligent homicide, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and failure to stop and render aid when a motor vehicle accident results in the death or serious injury of another. It also applies to offenders with felony convictions when a motor vehicle is used in the commission of a crime. In her July 2, 2020 Legislative Update, Senator Duncan Massey further explained that the, “licensing authority in the compact’s party state may not issue a license to an applicant if the individual has been suspended or revoked in a compact party state and the period of termination has not expired. After one year, the applicant can reapply for a driver’s license, with the compact state’s licensing authority.”
This new law will have a significant adverse effect for the many tourists visiting Tennessee who are convicted of a qualifying offense. For instance, in the past a speeding conviction in Tennessee was not necessarily reported to the visitor’s home state. Under this new law, it appears that the conviction will be reported to the home state.
This law will have even more impact for those convicted of driving under the influence in Tennessee. As an example, almost all persons holding a Tennessee driver’s license who are convicted of driving under the influence are eligible for a restricted driver’s license. Once reported to a home state, however, a Tennessee non-resident who is convicted of DUI may not enjoy the opportunity to gain a restricted license. A person’s driver’s license is totally governed by the laws of the state issuing the 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 has 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 six foreign countries. After being named a Fulbright Scholar, Steve was honored to teach as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Latvia Law School in the capital city of Riga, Latvia during the Spring Semester of 2019. If you would like to contact the author, please visit his website.