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Court Costs: E-Citations

Reference Number: MTAS-1976
Reviewed Date: 12/20/2021

Electronic Citation Fee Authorized: Adopt Ordinance to Collect $5.00 Fee for Five Years

Cities may adopt ordinances by majority vote of the legislative body to collect a $5.00 fee for both written and electronic citations prepared by a law enforcement officer, according to TCA § 55-10-207. However, once a city adopts such a fee, the ability to collect it must sunset five years from the ordinance’s adoption. MTAS has created an applicable sample ordinance for your use.

Replicas of citation data included in an electronic citation must be sent by electronic transmission within three days of the issuance of the citation to a court with jurisdiction over the alleged offense. A $5.00 fee is assessable as court costs and must be paid by the defendant for any offense cited in a traffic citation that results in a plea of guilty or no contest, or a judgment of guilty. The electronic citation must contain the same information as required under present law, and the person issued a citation will continue to be provided with a paper copy of the citation. [1] This fee shall be in addition to all other fees, taxes and charges, so cities should amend their current court cost code section to add this provision.

The $5.00 fee received must be apportioned as follows:

(1) $1.00 of such fee will be retained by the court clerk; and
(2) $4.00 of such fee will be transmitted on a monthly basis by the court clerk to the law enforcement agency that prepared the traffic citation that resulted in a plea of guilty, or nolo contendere, or a guilty judgment.

The law enforcement portion shall be accounted for in a special revenue fund of said law enforcement agency and may be used only for the following purposes:

(1) Electronic citation system and program related expenditures; and
(2) Related expenditures by the local law enforcement agency for technology, equipment, repairs, replacement and training to maintain electronic citation programs.

However, the clerk’s portion shall be used for computer hardware purchases, usual and necessary computer related expenses, or replacement, and may not revert to the general fund at the end of a budget year if unexpended.

[1] See also, citation requirements under T.C.A. §7-63-101 and § 55-10-207(i);Guidi v. City of Memphis, 263 S.W.2d 532 (A citation is sufficient if "the accused be given reasonable notice of the nature of the ordinance alleged to have been violated". ); City of La Vergne v. LeQuire, 2016 WL 6124117; City of Church Hill v. Elliott, 2017 WL 2591371 (Tenn. Crim. App. June 15, 2017). AG Opinion on electronic citations, Tenn.Op.Atty.Gen.No. 16-26 (7/22/16), 2016 WL 4055458.