Tennessee Department of Safety
1150 Foster Ave. 251-5216
24-hour telephone line: 741-3954
TDD Telecommunications Device for Hearing Impaired: 532-2281
Hours: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri. (busiest time: noon-2 p.m.)
New residents: If you are new to Tennessee, you will need to get a Tennessee license within 30 days of arrival. Take your Social Security card (or proof of your Social Security number) and valid out-of-state license to one of the testing centers. Once there, you’ll have to take a vision test, have a new picture taken and pay a fee. If your out-of-state license has expired within the past six months, you’ll need to provide two forms of ID (there’s a long list of acceptable items, including your birth certificate, passport, Social Security card, paycheck stub showing Social Security number or a W-2 form), and you will need to take the vision test.
If your out-of-state license expired more than six months ago, you will need to take two forms of ID to a full-service testing center, where you will be required to take a vision test, a traffic-rules test and a road test before obtaining your license. If you moved here from another country, you will be required to take all three tests, and you should take your passport or resident alien card to the testing center.
If you were never issued a Social Security number (SSN), you may still apply for a driver’s license or photo ID. The SSN requirement is the only requirement that has been changed for adults. The SSN requirement has not been changed for commercial driver’s licenses.
Learner’s permit and first license: In the state of Tennessee, you may apply for a learner’s permit at the age of 16. However, with the new graduated license law, there are new driving restrictions placed on teens under the age of 18. To receive a list of FAQs regarding the graduated license law, as well as an enumeration of driving restrictions for teens, please call the Tennessee Department of Safety or visit the Web site listed above. To apply for a learner’s permit, you will need to take your birth certificate, a passport or an adoption decree to the testing center with you. There is a $5 fee for each application. You will have to take a vision test and traffic-rules test. If you are over 18, when you go to get your driver’s license, you’ll need to bring your learner’s permit and take a road test. For the driving test, you will need a vehicle that is properly registered and is in good operating condition, with fully functioning safety features such as turn signals, brake lights and seat belts.
If you’re 16 or older and have never had a permit, you will be required to take the vision test, the traffic-rules test and the road test to get your first license. Also, if you are younger than 18, you’ll have to provide proof that you are either in school or that you have finisheda school compulsory attendance form, your high school diploma or your GED certificate. You’ll also need to have a parent (with proper ID) with you to certify that they are financially responsible for you. If your parent can’t go with you, pick up a form in advance, have it signed and notarized, and bring it with you to the testing center.
Renewals: You’ll receive a renewal notice in the mail at least six weeks before your license is scheduled to expire. You do not need this form to renew; the notice is a courtesy, and you are responsible for renewing your license by its expiration date regardless of whether you received a notice.
The notice not only serves as a warning, it also gives you the opportunity to renew your license by mail. The Tennessee Department of Safety recommends allowing three weeks for processing when choosing this option. To renew by mail, fill out the form with any address changes and whether you’d like to be an organ donor. Then sign the form and mail it back with the fee ($19.50; do not send cash). You will be mailed a renewal sticker to put on the back of your existing license. You also have the option of requesting that a voter registration form be mailed with your sticker. Of course, you still have the option of renewing your license at a testing center. You can also renew online at www.tennesseeanytime.org.
It’s not a good idea to let your license expire before renewing it, but if this should happen, the late fees are as follows: $5 if fewer than six months have passed, $10 if your license has been invalid for more than six months but less than five years. An expiration of longer than five years means you will have to start fresh with a vision test, a traffic-rules test and a road test. Note: If you are 60 or older, you may switch to a non-photo ID, either by mail or by going to a testing center.
Replacements: For lost, stolen or destroyed licenses, take two forms of ID (see above) to a testing center. The fee you pay will be determined by the number of previous replacements you’ve had during your current license renewal cycle. The current fees are $8 for the first and $12 for each subsequent replacement.
You don’t have to replace your license when you have a change of address. You must, however, notify the Department of Safety within 10 days of the change (per state law). You may do this by phone, unless you want a new license, in which case you will have to go to a testing center and pay the standard replacement fees (but you won’t have to provide proof of your identity). You can also do a change of address via Internet at www.tennesseeanytime.org.
Name changes must be made in person, and you must bring proof of the name change with you to a testing center. Marriage certificates, decrees of divorce and court orders, or certified copies thereof, are considered proof. The replacement license fees are the same, $8 and $12.
Driver’s License Testing Centers
6604 Centennial Blvd. 741-4560
624 Hart Ln. 532-9780
Both of these centers are full-service, offering road and traffic-rules tests. Hours: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. No road tests are given after 4:30 p.m.
Driver’s License Express Centers
1601 Murfreesboro Rd. 741-2541
William R. Snodgrass Bldg., 3rd fl., 312 8th Ave. N. 253-2062
Murfreesboro Rd. hours: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. except on the second Wednesday of every month, when the Center opens at 10 a.m. 8th Ave. N. hours: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Mon.-Fri. Express centers provide license duplicates, license renewals and exchange of valid out-of-state licenses for Tennessee licenses. Copies of driving records are also available at the 8th Ave. N. location. For further information, call the Tennessee Department of Safety’s 24-hour information line (741-3954) or visit the Web site at www.state.tn.us/safety.
Vehicle Emissions Testing
Residents of Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson counties must have their vehicles inspected.
Take your car for emissions testing before you attempt to get your license plate, otherwise you’ll just be wasting a lot of time. (Exceptions include vehicles from before 1974, diesel- or electrically powered vehicles, motorcycles and vehicles weighing more than 8,500 pounds.) Emissions testing costs $10 and can be done at any of the stations in the Metro area. Be sure to take the $10 in cash (taking the exact amount is a good idea), your title or old registration information or, if you’ve been through this before, the renewal information that was mailed to you. The emissions testing centers are open 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Tues.-Fri. and 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat. The 501 Craighead St. center is also open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon. All centers are closed Sundays and major holidays. The Smyrna mobile unit is open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (closed 1-1:30 p.m.) Tues.-Fri. the first and last weeks of each month (weather permitting). Keep in mind that lines are longer at the end of the month, when people are rushing to renew expiring license tags. For the testing station nearest you, call the Emissions Testing Hotline at 399-8995, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. By the way, should your vehicle fail the inspection, you are entitled to one free reinspection.
Once you’ve passed your emissions test, you’re set to pick up your license plate. You can do this at the County Clerk’s Office, located in the Howard School Building, 700 2nd Ave. S., or at a satellite office. When you go, take along the certificate from the emissions test and your current registration. If the car has a lien on it, you’ll need to provide the name and address of the lien holder. If your vehicle is leased, you’ll need to take your previous registration, a power of attorney from the leasing company, and the tax-exempt number of the leasing company. (Otherwise you’ll be required to pay state sales tax.) Fees for license plates are $66 for the first plate, which includes an $8 title fee, and $58 for renewals. Vanity plates are an extra $25 each time. Tennessee has more than 75 specialty license plates, so let your individuality run free. For information, call the County Clerk’s office at 862-6050. The office is open 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; the automated information line is accessible 24 hours a day.
Tennessee drivers aren’t required to carry liability insurance. However, if you are charged with a moving violation or get in an accident, the officer can request proof of financial responsibility. Failure to provide proof of financial responsibility (i.e. insurance card or policy) will result in a $100 fine and can result in a suspension of your driver’s license. Buckle up (it is the law) and drive carefully.
In Nashville, public transportation means busesand in some cases trolleys. The standard adult bus fare is $1.45, and transfers cost an extra 10¢ and must be used within 30 minutes (or on the next connecting bus). Senior citizens ride for 70¢, as do students in grades K-4 or lower. Students in grades 5-12 (who are 18 or younger) ride for 70¢ when presenting a Commuter Connection Card. Children 4 and younger ride free. For trips within the Rush Zoneessentially the greater downtown area bordered by the Cumberland River, Franklin Road, I-440, and the CSX Rail Linethe fare is 30¢. Fares are always paid upon entering the bus.
For information on bus schedules or bus pass packages, call MTA at 862-5950. For Park ’n’ Ride and Ridesharing programs, call 242-4000. For information on door-to-door transportation for disabled riders, call Access Ride at 880-3970.
RTA, the Regional Transportation Authority, offers bus service between Nashville and Murfreesboro (including the MTSU campus) or Smyrna (including La Vergne) for an Express-Plus service rate of $2.25. Express service between Nashville and Sam Ridley Parkway, and all trips within Rutherford County, cost $2 for adults. On weekdays, there is also roundtrip service from Hendersonville to downtown and from Mount Juliet to downtown. An Express card of 10 round-trips can be purchased for $36; an Express-Plus card for 10 round-trips is $40.50. Senior citizens and disabled persons ride for 90¢ with an RTA ID; $1 Express rate. Students 18 and younger also ride for 90¢ (call RTA for ID information). Children 4 and younger ride for free.
Transfers from this route to an MTA bus are 10¢, while transfers from an MTA bus to this route are 60¢, 85¢ for express service. Transfers are good for 30 minutes, or until the next connecting bus. For information on park-and-ride services, ridesharing programs, Emergency Ride Home, Access Ride for elderly or disabled persons, and other services, call the RTA office at 862-8833, or visit the Web site at www.rta-ride.org.
Airport Authority (main switchboard) 275-1600
Paging/Information (welcome center) 275-1674 or 275-1675
Operating Conditions 275-1665
Visit the Airport Authority’s Web site at www.nashintl.com/
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