CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., April 16, 2022 — No city government can administer the driver license law, yet city government agents routinely arrest people and put them into Silverdale county jail on criminal charges that they are “driving” on a revoked or suspended license.
The driver license is a contractual arrangement between a man or woman and state of Tennessee through its executive branch agency, the department of safety and homeland security. “This chapter [chapter 50, the uniform classified and commercial driver license act] shall be administered by the department of safety,” Acts 1937, ch. 90, etc. (emphasis added).
The state administers the driver license law. We read this point correctly by reading it twice.
That means your city and mine (Chattanooga) have limited authority to enforce (same idea as administer) the law that controls the privilege of operating a motor vehicle. The limit is built into the law at several points, including this one.
The licensing as a privilege of the driving of any motor driven vehicle upon the roads, streets or other highways of the state is declared an exclusive state privilege and no tax for such privilege under any guise or shape shall hereafter be assessed, levied or collected by any municipality of the state. [emphasis added]
Tenn. Code Ann. § 6-55-501. No municipal privilege tax
This command is in the body of state law pertaining to authority of municipal corporations. It is a privilege to “drive *** any motor driven vehicle.” And as this is an “exclusive state privilege,” no city or county can — “under any guise or shape” — poach on the state’s authority to administer the driver license. ‡
Operation of a motor vehicle is a privileged activity. Meaning what? Meaning, it is special and allowed, permitted; it is taxable, regulable by state government. “Driving” or “operating” a motor vehicle is a commercial act by a carrier. A carrier is a common carrier or a private carrier, moving goods or people for hire and for pay on the public road or highway.
This activity is distinct from the right to travel, and the operation of this privilege does not implicate, injure, derogate or abrogate the right to travel. (“Thus, not only has the appellant’s right to freedom of travel not been infringed, but also, we cannot conclude that this right is even implicated in this case” State v. Booher, 978 S.W.2d 953, 955 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1997))
Another state law limits cops’ authority over people not residing in the city limits who are using their cars, either for travel (private) or or driving and operating (commercial use).
*** No municipality shall require any person who does not reside within the municipality’s corporate boundaries to purchase a city automobile tag, or pay any license fee, regulatory fee, inspection fee, safety inspection fee, or any citation or fine for noncompliance with any regulatory, license, or inspection requirement, or tax of whatever nature for the privilege of driving a motor vehicle on the roads, streets or highways of such municipality.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 6-55-502 Conflicting enactments; unaffected municipal conduct; no tax of nonresidents
A person not residing in a city or town cannot be required to pay any fee or “any citation or fine for noncompliance” with any “regulatory, license or inspection requirement *** or tax of whatever nature for the privilege” of operating a motor vehicle (commercial) in the town.
This 20-page legal notice lets you fight back vs. illicit ‘traffic stops’ — sue for damages, have defense in your criminal case
This law has been in power since 1937.
So on what basis do towns run speed traps and waylay travelers on highways and roads through their jurisdictions, travelers who don’t live in the city but whose activities and movements are arrested and they are brought to bar in city court or sessions court with intent by the city to levy a fine or a fee (court fees) upon such a person?
On what basis do city and town highwayman programs operate?
These two laws appear to be a defense in any standard-issue traffic case.
‡ It is said that the $60 charge is really not a privilege tax, but is by virtue of a franchise, or a rental; hence, *74 not within the prohibition of the general law, T.C.A. § 6–727. The Court could hardly give its approval to this proposition without, in effect, amending this code section by striking therefrom the legislative mandate that the assessment is not to be made by a municipality ‘under any guise or shape’.
City of Memphis v. Yellow Cab, Inc., 201 Tenn. 71, 73–74, 296 S.W.2d 864, 865 (1956)