Even the most cautious and responsible driver can wind up making a mistake or bad decision behind the wheel. And no matter who you are, these missteps can lead to some surprisingly serious consequences.

Before you dismiss a misdemeanor traffic offense because you think it’s not serious or because it was a one-time mistake, you should think about how it could affect your future. 

Types of misdemeanor offenses

Backing up, we should explain some of the types of traffic violations that can lead to a misdemeanor charge in Tennessee. They include:

  • Driving on a suspended license
  • Reckless driving 
  • Drunk driving
  • Speeding
  • Hit-and-run accidents involving damage
  • Texting and driving
  • Reckless endangerment
  • Fleeing an officer

These and other offenses can trigger misdemeanor — or in some cases, felony — charges.

Consequences drivers can face

There are three types of misdemeanors a driver might face in this state: Class A, Class B and Class C. The class will dictate the possible penalties. As noted in state laws:

  • Class A is the most serious misdemeanor, with possible sentences including up to 11 months and 29 days imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
  • Class B misdemeanors are less serious but can still result in imprisonment of up to six months and a $500 fine.
  • Class C is least severe, though the courts can still order a person to serve up to 30 days in jail and/or pay $50 in fines. 

In any case of a conviction on a misdemeanor, there is the possibility for jail time and fines. This can upset a person’s employment and financial situation, and a conviction can stay on a person’s record unless he or she seeks expungement. Having this type of conviction on a record can affect loans, living situations, job opportunities and, in some cases, child custody.

With all this in mind, we urge Tennessee motorists to take misdemeanor charges seriously. They will not go away on their own, and there are serious penalties associated with conviction. As such, consulting an experienced attorney to defend against misdemeanor offenses can be wise.