Auto Insurance Question & Answer

Friday, October 9, 2009

In Tennessee, how many points is allowed before a driver's license is suspended?

The amount of points accumulated on your Tennessee driver's record that will cause your driving privileges to be suspended varies depending upon if you are an adult or teen driver.

As an adult driver you may face suspension of your license once you have reached 12 points within a 12 month period. The TN Department of Safety states that they have set up the Driver Improvement Section of their agency to monitor the driving records of Tennessee drivers and they send out notices when you have accumulated too many points according to state laws.

Drivers that accumulate twelve (12) or more points on their TN driving record within any 12-month period are sent a notice of proposed suspension and given an opportunity to attend an administrative hearing. If they fail to request a hearing, their driving privileges are suspended for a period of six (6) to twelve (12) months. In most cases, when a driver requests a hearing, they are given the opportunity to attend a defensive driving class in lieu of suspension or a reduction of suspension time.

Teenage drivers are looked at closer since they are inexperienced drivers and thus drivers less than eighteen (18) years of age that accumulate six (6) or more points on their driving record within any twelve (12) month period are sent a notice of proposed suspension from the Department of Safety and are placed in the Driver Improvement Program. The driver will be required to attend an administrative hearing, with their parent or guardian present, to discuss the points assigned to their driving record. Certain actions could be imposed based on the outcome of the hearing and the number of points accumulated on the driver's record.

When a teen driver has accumulated between 6 to 9 points:

* Driving privileges may be suspended for 3 to 6 months.
* Driver must attend and complete a Defensive Driving Course within 90 days.
* Failure to attend hearing by the driver and parent/guardian present will result in a mandatory 6 month suspension of the juvenile's driving privileges.
* If a driver's license is suspended, all legal and departmental requirements for reinstatement, including proof of liability insurance, completion of a Defensive Driving Course and payment of reinstatement fees, must be met before driving privileges can be reinstated.

If they have been assessed 10 or more points than:

* Driving privileges will be suspended for 6 months.
* Failure to attend hearing by the driver and parent/guardian will result in a mandatory 6 month suspension of the juvenile's driving privileges and attendance at a Defensive Driving Course.
* All legal and departmental requirements for reinstatement, including proof of liability insurance, completion of a Defensive Driving Course and payment of reinstatement fees, must be met before driving privileges can be reinstated.

If a driver under the age of 18 accumulates 6 or more points on their driving record in a 12-month period following the first offense (so this now counts as a second or subsequent offense of receiving too many points on your motor vehicle record), the driver is sent a notice of proposed suspension from the Department of Safety and is placed in the Driver Improvement Program, with a copy sent to the driver's parent/guardian.

Then their driving privileges will be suspended for 6 or 12 months depending on their driving record. All legal and departmental requirements for reinstatement, including proof of liability insurance, completion of a Defensive Driving Course and payment of reinstatement fees, must be met before driving privileges can be reinstated for the teenage motorist.

Per chapter 1340-1-4 of the Rules of Tennessee Department of Safety Control Division an adult driver shall receive only one (1) advisory letter of caution within a five (5) year period. Also any driver not suspended entering the Driver Improvement Program who has not been involved in the program within a five (5) year period shall be treated as a first offender. So if you accumulate 12 or more points twice within a 5 month period you will be given harsher penalties since the TN Department of Safety will look at it as a second offense.

In Tennessee points are typically kept on your record for 5 years. While too many points may affect your driving privileges, too many traffic violations on your motor vehicle record (MVR) and cause your insurance rates to be affected. Whether you have a clean driving record or a few traffic offenses on your MVR, you can click here to get instant car insurance quotes for the state of Tennessee.


How old do you have to be to sit in the front seat in a car?

Legislation varies from state to state regarding the issue of seat belts, child restraints and when a child may be allowed to sit in the front seat. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends all children under age 13 sit in the back seat of a motor vehicle. Many states also suggest that the age of 13 is when it is appropriate for a child to finally sit in the front seat.

For example, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet notes there is not a state law governing the age of front seat passengers but that the risk of injury is greater in the front seat for children, with or without an airbag. Research shows it is best for children ages 12 and under to ALWAYS ride in the back seat so that is their recommendation as well.

New York State notes that although NYS does not have a law preventing children from sitting in the front seat, it is highly recommended that all children age 12 and under ride properly restrained in the back seat. Researchers estimate that just by putting a child in the back seat instead of the front seat reduces the chance of injury and death by more than 30 percent.

NYS also says that infants in rear-facing car seats should never be placed in the front seat of a car with a passenger-side air bag. While air bags provide effective protection for adult passengers, the great forces produced by an inflating air bag can injure or even kill a child. In fact, the safest place for children of all ages to ride is in the rear seat of the vehicle. If there is no other option, children in forward-facing child seats can ride in the front seat, but the passenger seat should be placed as far back from the dashboard (and air bag) as possible.

Rhode Island's laws state that children who are less than seven (7) years old must be transported in a federally approved restraint seat in the back seat of the vehicle. They require you follow instructions for use described in the restraint seat manual for age and weight.

California law (CA Vehicle Code 2736) basically states that any child under the age of six weighing less than 60 pounds must be secured in a federally approved child passenger restraint system and ride in the back seat of a vehicle. The VC notes that a child under the age of six weighing less than 60 pounds may ride in the front seat of a vehicle when:

* There is no rear seat or the rear seats are either side-facing jump seats or rear-facing seats.
* The child passenger restraint system cannot be installed properly in the rear seat.
* All rear seats are already occupied by children under the age of 12 years.
* A medical reason requires the child to ride in the front seat.

A child may not ride in the front seat of an airbag-equipped vehicle if the child:

* Is under one year of age.
* Weighs less than 20 pounds.
* Is riding in a rear-facing child passenger restraint system.

The NHTSA site says that the rear seat is the safest place for children of any age to ride. An infant in a rear-facing child seat must ride in the back seat if your vehicle has a passenger air bag. Make sure that everyone in the front seat is properly buckled up and seated as far back from the air bags as is reasonably possible when they do reach an age in which to sit in the front.

They also advise drivers to make sure that all young children are properly secured in an age and size appropriate restraints. The NHTSA has an Auto Safety Hotline at 1-888-DASH-2-DOT (1-888-327-4236) which you can call to get more information on this topic.

To find out if your state has any laws that mandate you cannot have a child under a certain age in the front seat, contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles.

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