Following is an overview of the laws, limits, and fines as they relate to speeding traffic violations in the state of Tennessee.

Speed limits in Tennessee

70 mph: rural interstates and some other controlled-access highways

55-65 mph: urban interstates and freeways and divided four-lane highways

55 mph: most two-lane state-maintained roads outside municipal limits

The speed limit inside municipalities ranges widely, and could be posted anywhere between 15 mph and 55 mph depending on the type of road. This is due to the fact that Tennessee gives liberal home-rule powers to counties for setting their own speed limits.

Tennessee code on reasonable and prudent speed

This state does not have a law establishing a basic speed rule.

Minimum speed law:

According to section 15-316 of TN vehicle code, “No person shall operate a motor vehicle at such slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.”

Section 15-106 states, “A person driving at less than the normal speed of traffic shall drive in the right-hand lane then available for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.”

Due to variations in speedometer calibration, tire size, and margins of error in speed-detecting technology, it’s uncommon for an officer to pull a driver over for going less than five miles above the speed limit. However, technically any amount over can be considered a speed violation so best practices are to stay within the limit.

While it may be difficult to fight a speeding ticket in Tennessee due to the absolute speed limit law, a driver may choose to go to court and claim their innocence based upon one of the following:

  • The driver may oppose the determination of speed. In order to claim this defense a driver must know how his or her speed was determined and then learn how to disprove its accuracy.

  • A driver may claim that an emergency situation caused the driver to break the speed limit in order to prevent injury or damage to themselves or others.

  • The driver may claim a case of mistaken identity. If a police officer clocks a driver speeding and subsequently has to find them again in traffic, it’s possible that they could have made a mistake and pulled the wrong car over.

Penalty for exceeding the speed limit in Tennessee

First-time violators may:

  • Be fined up to $77.75

  • Be sentenced to up to 30 days of jail time

  • Have their license suspended for up to six months

Penalty for reckless driving in Tennessee

There is no set amount by which exceeding the speed limit constitutes reckless driving in this state. That determination may be made based upon other factors involved in the violation.

First-time violators may:

  • Be fined up to $500

  • Be sentenced to up to six months of jail time

  • Have their license suspended (via a point system)

Violators may be required to attend driver education classes.

This article originally appeared on as Tennessee Speed Limits, Laws, and Fines and was authored by Valerie Johnston.

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