FROM: Sid Hemsley, Senior Law Consultant
DATE: September 20, 2001
RE: Collection Municipal Court Fines
There are (in theory) several ways to collect municipal court fines:
1. Suspension of drivers license for failure to pay traffic violation fines and civil penalties under Tennessee Code Annotated, ' 40-24-101. This statute appears to be limited to fines permitted by the court to be paid in installments.
2. Suspension of drivers license for failure to pay traffic violation fines and civil penalties under Tennessee Code Annotated, ' 55-30-503(b). This statute authorizes the Department of Safety to suspend drivers licenses for various reasons, including the failure to pay traffic fines.
3. Collection of fines overdue more than 30 days, in the same manner as a judgment in a civil action, under Tennessee Code Annotated, ' 40-24-105, or Tennessee Code Annotated, ' 6- 54-303. The municipal court’s judgment for fines and costs operates as the judgment of debt upon which execution can issue; no separate judgment or execution by another court is required. The judgment is executed in the same manner as and by the same methods prescribed by Tennessee Code Annotated , title 26, Chapters 1, 2 and 3: seizure or attachment of property, or garnishment. The executions may be served by anywhere in the county by municipal police officers. (The rules governing judgments and execution are quite complicated, and should not be attempted without qualified legal help).
4. Presumably, a municipality could also take its judgment of fines and costs to the sessions court and judgment and execution there, under Tennessee Code Annotated, title 26, Chapters 1, 2 and 3.
5. Collection by collection agencies, under Tennessee Code Annotated, ' 40-24- 105(d)(1).