New Tennessee rule puts teeth into ticket quota ban

August 19, 2020

Keith Goble


A new law in Tennessee is intended to put an end to police going on ticket-writing sprees.

The state already prohibits the practice of ticket quotas. Despite the proactive step taken by the state Legislature in 2010, some say there is “no teeth” to the law because there is no criminal penalty attached to the rule.

Gov. Bill Lee has signed into law a bill to put some bite into the rule. Previously SB2458 the new rule specifies a penalty.

Poster child to ticket quotas

Supporters said the need for including a punishment for breaking the ticket quotas rule is highlighted by recent illegal activity in one locale north of Nashville.

Ridgetop, Tenn., is intersected by U.S. 41 in Davidson and Robertson counties.

Sen. Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield, said during Senate committee discussion on the bill that the town’s police department wrote about $250,000 in traffic tickets. Roberts said a city that size should be more in line with $30,000 in tickets.

Police said elected officials were responsible for the practice.

“The law had been broken, but there was no consequence so nothing could be done about it,” Roberts testified. “In so doing, we basically told every municipality in Tennessee ‘go ahead and have your ticket quota, because even though it is against the law there’s not a thing in the world anyone’s going to do about it.’”

Rep. Brandon Ogles, R-Franklin, added on the House floor that the bill does not keep law enforcement from doing the job they are hired to do.

“We are in no way tying the hands of our law enforcement officers that do a great job enforcing the laws that we put on the books and hold people accountable daily when they violate our laws,” Ogles said.

Teeth in the law

Effective Oct. 1, the new law adds a consequence for officials who implement ticket quotas. Specifically, public officials directing law enforcement to issue a certain number of tickets would be subject to a fine up to $500.

More Land Line coverage of news from Tennessee is available.