What Happens if I Get a Traffic Ticket Out of State?
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When you get an out-of-state moving violation, it may affect your driver's record in much the same way that an in-state violation would. There's no such thing as "out of sight, out of mind" when it comes to traffic tickets, and the longer you delay in responding to the citation, the more costly it could get. If you've been given a ticket in another state for speeding, failing to yield, or another moving violation you might end up paying more than traffic fines. Your car insurance rates could also go up, especially if you have had a recent car accident or traffic violation on your record. Drivers that are considered higher risk (meaning they are likely to file an insurance claim,) will be charged higher rates by insurers. How much more you would pay for car insurance depends on where you live and the severity of the violation. Here's everything you need to know if you got a ticket in another state.
What Happens if I Get a Ticket in Another State?
When you receive an out-of-state ticket, you'll have to return to the county in which it was issued to contest the ticket — if that is your intention. You have several options:
- Pay the ticket
- Fight the ticket by mail
- Fight the ticket by hiring a lawyer who specializes in traffic violations
- Fight the ticket yourself by showing up in court.
No matter the course of action you take, don't ignore the ticket and hope it goes away. Most states will report any traffic violations to your home state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The following are two ways states can monitor and track any driving violations:
The Driver's License Compact
Under the Driver's License Compact, 46 states can share information about traffic violations and other driving offenses with each other and the Department of Motor Vehicles. If police in a compact state were to issue you a ticket, your local DMV will be notified about the offense and will treat the offense the same as if it was committed in your home state. Failure to pay the fines could result in a driver's license suspension. You may even have your driving privileges suspended in both states.
Only four states have not joined the DLC, including:
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Non-Resident Violator Compact
Currently, 43 states are part of the Non-Resident Violator Compact (NRVC). If you receive a traffic ticket out-of-state, the NRVC compact shares information regarding violation citations regardless of borders.
The seven states that have not joined this compact include:
- Virginia (as of 2019)
Both these interstate agreements allow states to communicate with each regarding traffic violations and citations, thereby allowing the Department of Motor Vehicles to process violations committed by non-residents. Even states that do not participate in the NRCV or the DLC will still share information about your traffic citations with your home state.
If you get an out-of-state traffic violation, your DMV will likely be notified right away. Your driver's license can be suspended if you choose not to pay your out-of-state ticket after a conviction. The state that issued the ticket can also suspend your driver's license privileges in their state if they issued a ticket.
What Happens if I Get a Speeding Ticket Out of State?
You can't ignore a speeding ticket and hope it goes away. Even misdemeanors will have a way to find you. Even worse, your home state can penalize you and suspend your driving privileges, and you may end up paying a lot more trying to resolve the matter — plus your insurance could go up. You could end up in legal trouble if you don't pay or fight your speeding ticket. The DMV in each state releases information about different moving violations that drivers incur like speeding, at-fault car accidents and more.
- Points could be added to your driver's record after a speeding ticket
- You may have to pay fines as your points stack up
- Your driver's license may be suspended after getting enough points
- You may be able to take driver's education classes to reduce points
Each state is different, you can look up your state's laws regarding speeding tickets and how they impact your driver's record.
Will It Affect My Drivers License if I Get a Ticket in Another State?
Yes, getting a ticket in another state will affect your driver's license. You are lawfully allowed to drive in another state with a valid state driver's license, but that doesn't mean that you aren't also held to traffic and driving laws of the state. If you get a ticket out-of-state, bear in mind that most states are party to interstate agreements that were created to track such traffic violations. Any citations or violations are usually transferred to your home state and can impact your ability to legally drive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration keeps information on every driver in the United States, including their driving records under the National Driver Register. This computerized database keeps track of drivers who have been convicted of serious traffic violations like DUIs or have had their driver's licenses suspended or revoked. If you have not paid out-of-state traffic or speeding tickets, you may get your driver's license suspended or denied when it is time to renew it.
How Can an Out-of-State Ticket Affect Your Insurance Rates?
One of the many things that can be impacted by an out-of-state ticket is your car insurance rate. On average, car insurance rate increases for drivers who get a speeding ticket is 24% or almost $380 annually. Any time you receive a ticket in another state, your home state DMV will typically receive a notification. However, not all states treat moving violations the same, and it may not automatically affect your insurance. Once a ticket has been reported to your state's DMV, it will appear on your driving record. Not all states add minor traffic violations from other states like speeding to your driving record, so it's a good idea to do some research on your state's laws to see how your DMV will handle it.
When you receive a traffic ticket out-of-state, however, you'll have to go back to the county in which it was issued in order to contest the ticket--which is often more expensive than simply paying for it. If you do opt to contest the ticket, make sure that you hire an attorney from that state to represent you.
Here are examples of rate increases for speeding tickets with four well-known insurance companies:
As you can see, insurance rates can increase significantly after a traffic violation. If your insurer decides to increase your rates as a result, they may look at different factors that contributed to the ticket, such as:
- History of citations
- The state you received the ticket in
- How fast you were driving, if it was a speeding ticket
- Your insurer's policies
- Insurance rules in your home state
- The severity of your violation
A low-level violation and a first offense may result in a slight or no increase with a disqualification from a discount for being a good driver.
Average yearly full coverage premium without a speeding ticket
Average yearly full coverage premium with a speeding ticket
How to keep your insurance rates low after a speeding ticket
Here are a few tips to keeping your premiums affordable, even after an out-of-state traffic violation:
- Go to traffic school or take an online driving class. Most insurers will lower your rates and offer discounts
- Fight the ticket
- Keep your driving record clean
- Shop around for a new insurance carrier
- Stay on top of your fines and penalties
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Can You Contest an Out-of-State Traffic Ticket?
For many drivers, the easiest way out is to simply pay the fine. However, there are many reasons why you may want to fight an out-of-state traffic violation and many different ways to go about it. It's always better to resolve it as soon as possible before it could potentially impact your driver's license and record.
You can contest a ticket by:
- Reading the ticket. The ticket should have the relevant information that you need, including the amount of the fine, the officer's name, the county you were pulled over in, the county clerk's office, website and phone number.
- Call and find out if an out-of-state online traffic school is an option that could help you dismiss the fine or reduce it.
- You can simply pay the fine and mail it to the mailing address provided.
- You can also contest the ticket by mail by checking not guilty and providing your reasons why you should not be considered guilty of the charge, especially if there are errors on the ticket.
- Contest the ticket by affidavit, which will allow you to fight it without having to appear in court by sending a written affidavit before your court date.
- Be mindful of your court date, if you have one. However, if necessary, you may be able to file an extension with the court through the proper paperwork
- Give the local prosecutor a call and ask about reducing your fine without you having to appear in court
- If you choose to fight the fine by hiring a lawyer, just know that it could end up being more expensive than just paying the fine. However, if the traffic violation is a serious offense, you may need the experience of a traffic ticket lawyer who better understands local laws and how to fight an out-of-state ticket
Lower Car Insurance Rates in Your Area
You don't need to panic if you get a ticket in another state while driving. The good news is that you have many options to reduce the repercussions. SmartFinancial can also help you shop around for lower car insurance rates based on your location. Just enter your zip code below and answer a few quick questions.