Knowledgebase-Commercial Drivers License and Ordinance Violations

Information Product

Title:Commercial Drivers License and Ordinance Violations
Summary:MTAS was asked whether a person with a CDL who violated a traffic ordinance could be diverted to traffic school.
Original Author:Huffer, Dennis
Product Create Date:02/11/2008
Last Reviewed on::06/20/2017
Subject:Traffic--Laws and regulations; Traffic--Municipal ordinances
Type:Legal Opinion
Legal Opinion: Commercial Drivers License public.doc

Reference Documents:

Text of Document: 2/11/08

Dear City Attorney,

I have looked at this and am of the opinion that T.C.A. 55-10-301(c) applies to ordinance violations. Thus, a person with a CDL who violated a traffic ordinance, except a parking restriction, could not be diverted to traffic school. The municipality is given the authority to adopt T.C.A. 55-10-301 by reference in 55-10-307. If the municipality has not adopted this section by reference, the authority of a municipal court to send a violator to traffic school would be questionable. Arguably Subsection (c) is adopted by and part of the municipality's ordinances also.

Be that as it may, I think the federal rule is clear. When one deletes all superfluous language from 49 C.F.R. 384.226, the rule reads as follows:

The State must not ... allow an individual to enter into a diversion program that would prevent a CDL driver's conviction for any violation, in any vehicle, of a ... local traffic control law (except a parking violation) from appearing on the driver's record ... .

The word "State" here is addressing the state more as the administrator of driver licensing programs, rather than as the entity leving the penalty, in my opinion. Clearly the rule applies to "local traffic control laws" as well as state statutes.

The state statute was amended by adding Subsection (c) in 2005 to conform to this federal rule. The Court in Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County v. Stark, 2008 WL 276005(tenn. App. 2008), interpreted the rule and the statute as applying to traffic ordinance violations. The defendant in that case violated "municipal traffic ordinances in Davidson County." I doubt that it makes any difference that the conviction here was by a general sessions court. The salient criteria are that the driver possess a CDL and that there be a violation of a traffic control ordinance.

Dennis Huffer
Legal Consultant

Please remember that these legal opinions were written based on the facts of a given city at a certain time. The laws referenced in any opinion may have changed or may not be applicable to your city or circumstances.

Always consult with your city attorney or an MTAS consultant before taking any action based on information contained in this database.