What Happens if I Get a Traffic Ticket Out of State?
Getting pulled over during a road trip is a nightmare, and you are not exempt from speeding laws in another state. Some people wrongly believe that an out-of-state ticket will somehow "go away" once they return home; however, everything is computerized these days. Different jurisdictions exchange information about traffic offenses, so they will probably track down this information.
What Should I Expect If I Get A Speeding Ticket?
When you violate the speed limit, you can get points on your license for a ticket issued out of state. If you don't pay outstanding tickets, you may have your license suspended.
If you get a speeding ticket, you can even find yourself in legal trouble if you don't pay it. Contesting it in another area is difficult, so it's often easier to pay for it. Below we have some important information and options regarding out-of-state traffic infractions.
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Will an Out-of-State Speeding Ticket Affect My Rates in My Home State?
Yes, it can. You can't ignore an out-of-state ticket, because most regions will report your violations to your home state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Two agreements allow states to share information about offenses.
The Driver's License Compact
The Driver's License Compact allows 46 states to share information about traffic offenses with each other.
Under this agreement, member states forward the non-resident's ticketed traffic violations to a driver's home state's Department of Motor Vehicles.
If law enforcement in a compact state ticketed you, the state will notify your local DMV about the offense (if it belongs to the agreement).
Your DMV will treat the interstate offense the same as if you committed it there. The DMV from the state's law enforcement that ticketed you will contact you to pay the fine, or your home state will suspend your driving privileges.
Under some circumstances, both places may suspend your privileges, especially if you've accumulated many points. The suspension will likely come with fines, possibly from both states!
Not every state has joined this compact. Four don't belong to this compact:
Non-Resident Violator Compact (NRVC)
The Non-Resident Violator Compact (NRVC) is another interstate agreement that allows state members to exchange information about traffic citations. This contract allows Department of Motor Vehicles members to process all traffic citations of non-residents. If an out-of-state resident gets ticketed, the NRVC state reports it to the person's home DMV.
The driver's home state can suspend their license if the person doesn't pay the out-of-state ticket after a conviction.
What if a non-resident (who lives in a non-NRVC member state) gets ticketed in an NRVC state? The ticket-issuing region will suspend the driver's license privileges. The person will keep driving privileges in the home state.
Forty-four states and the District of Columbia are part of this agreement. Non-members are:
- Oregon, and
Don't assume that states who don't participate in the DLC or NRLV won't share information about your traffic offense with your home state. Some states, like Massachusetts, have their systems to share information about drivers who violate the law.
Which States Add Traffic Ticket or Violations to Your Driving Record?
Each region handles out-of-state traffic citations differently. Most states use a traffic ticket point system. It assigns values to different types of offenses.
The most serious ones receive the highest points values. Governments add these points to a driver's license which becomes an official part of each person's record.
Each state's DMV publishes the different infractions that drivers receive points for on their record. Drivers can receive points for at-fault accidents, negligent acts, speeding and other offenses. Here are some things you should know about this system:
- Law enforcement can add points to a driver's record after they have a traffic infraction.
- Your state may charge you fines as your points increase.
- Your area may suspend your driver's license privileges if enough points add up.
- You may take driver's education courses at a school to remove points from your record.
- Your Secretary of State offers certified copies of your driving record. Get this to verify your history.
Accumulating enough points will not only lead to the suspension of a person's driver's license. It can also result in higher premium rates. You can visit your state's website below to see how they assign points to traffic infractions.
State Traffic Point Systems
Driver's Handbook (Section 6.2, page 10)
Administrative Code: Transportation Title 92 – Illinois Offense Table
Kansas doesn't have a point system; instead, it lists each violation.
Kentucky Driver Point System
Louisiana doesn't have a point system. It participates in the Problem Driver
Pointer System (PDPS)
The point system is explained in the Safe Driver Insurance Plan (SDIP)
The state doesn't have a point system.
This state doesn't have a point system for driver's license offenses.
Driver Record Violation Description and Points Assessed
Explains its Points and Motorist Suspensions
The state doesn't use a point system but records each violation.
The state doesn't use a point system.
The Driver Responsibility Program was repealed in 2019. The state no longer uses points to assess moving violations.
Washington doesn't have a point system.
Wyoming doesn't have a formal point system. Each county can decide how to penalize drivers.
How One Out-of-State Speeding Ticket Can Affect Your Rates
Almost one in six Americans get a speeding ticket every year, which is almost 41 million people annually. The average cost of a speeding ticket is $150. The cost of tickets vary depending on three factors:
- Where you're driving
- Your speed
- How many points against your licenses
A speeding ticket can only affect your insurance rates if the out-of-state DMV reports it to your state's DMV, and it appears on your driving record.
The 45 states that belong to the DLC immediately report any citations that non-residents receive in their area. Individual states can also share this information if they are non-members. For instance, Massachusetts shares data about offenses through their Registry of Motor Vehicles.
In some states, the offense may stay off of your driving record, even if it's reported. Places like Colorado and Pennsylvania won't add infractions they believe are minor offenses, which may include speeding, running a stop sign or driving without a seat belt. These places can add more serious offenses, including reckless driving.
Places like Florida put traffic violations and points on your driving record for all out-of-state infractions. It means your insurance premiums will likely spike. States like Maryland and Nevada record an interstate ticket on your record, but won't assign any points.
A few states will assign points for minor traffic tickets you get in another country. For instance, New York State will record and assess points on your record if you get a minor traffic ticket in Quebec or Ontario, Canada.
If you receive tickets in other places within Canada, the state will not add points or infractions to your record. New Jersey adds two points for all interstate convictions, even if the individual would have received different ones for their violation at home.
What If I Get a DUI in Another State?
Most states consider driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs as serious driving offenses. You can even get charged with a DUI for having an open container. Usually, a DUI occurs when a person has a blood alcohol content that measures .08 or higher. These traffic infractions will always show up on your record. The Department of Motor Vehicles in each state handles DUI charges differently.
A state may suspend your privileges if your blood-alcohol content level (BAC) was over the legal limit or if you refused a breathalyzer test. This suspension will remain in effect until your courtroom date.
You will then have to participate in a DUI education program if you're convicted. A judge will ask you to fulfill requirements established by the state where you received the ticket.
If you received a DUI in another state, you must find out what requirements you'll need to fulfill for the state where you received the DUI.
For instance, if you get this conviction in California, the California DMV will not accept the completion of an alcohol safety program from another state.
If you are a Golden State resident and get an out-of-state DUI, you must hire a DUI defense attorney in the location where you got the DUI. The state will most likely allow you to complete your required classes in California, which has strict requirements. Additionally, you must finish the Golden State's requirements, not the location where you received your DUI.
Rules differ from state to state so ask lots of questions if this scenario pertains to you but you don't live in California. It can be a hassle dealing with DUI charges out-of-state. That is why you should be extremely careful when you drink before driving while you're on vacation.
Hidden Costs of an Out-of-State Ticket: How Much Is It?
The average traffic ticket costs about $150. Some states add a mandatory state surcharge. New York, for instance, tacks on about $90 to your fine. Your home state may also have a Driver Responsibility Assessment. It means that if you get six points or more in a state, you'll have to pay a base penalty (up to $25 per point!).
Can I Contest an Out-of-State Ticket?
If possible, you should contest your out-of-state ticket. You can fight the ticket yourself in traffic court. It may require you to travel across state lines to the jurisdiction where you received the infraction. Another option is to hire a traffic attorney to fight the charge for you before a judge.
In some states, drivers can contest tickets using a written declaration instead of coming to a courtroom. This process allows non-resident drivers to defend themselves.
Do Out-of-State Tickets Affect My Insurance Rates?
Yes. Paying tickets or fines is an admission of guilt. Insurers will use your guilty plea to raise your rates.
Insurance companies use the past three to five years of your driving history to determine your rates. They check for the following on your record:
- Moving violations
- At-fault accidents
- Driving related criminal convictions
- Points from the past three to seven years
They also track the number of filed claims using the Comprehensive Underwriting Exchange claims information report. Insurers also use this history to calculate your premiums.
Whether your insurance rates rise after you get a ticket out-of-state depends on several things.
For instance, some states count these interstate traffic infractions, while others do not. It also depends on the severity of your driving offense. Additionally, each state has its own insurance rules: your rate may increase after a single moving violation in some areas, but not others.
Your insurance premiums will rise as points accumulate on your license. If you receive enough points, they may cancel your insurance. In some states, you can attend traffic school classes to prevent your insurer from learning about the violation. This step can prevent your insurance carrier from learning about the ticket.
Your rates will increase if they discover you've pled guilty to a driving violation or speeding ticket in another state.
Do Non-Moving Violations Affect Insurance?
Most non-moving offenses, like parking tickets or expired plates, won't spike your insurance rates. If you have multiple unpaid parking tickets, it can cause an insurer to raise your rate.
So, remember to pay off all parking tickets and fines, however minor. They don't disappear from your record, even after you leave the state.
How Can I Keep Points Off My Driving Record in my Home State After Getting a Ticket?
There are several things you can do to keep out-of-state driving points off your home state's record. They include the following steps:
Some places will allow a traffic attorney to appear in your stead if you cannot make it to an out-of-state court date. Consider retaining a local attorney in the area to argue your case for you.
Get a Deferral for your Court Case. Other states may defer your ticket for some time (usually a year) if you're convicted or plead guilty. If you get through the deferral period without any new traffic tickets, your case will be dismissed without it affecting your driving history. However, if you get ticketed during the deferral period, your rate will skyrocket.
Delay with a Continuance. No, we're not suggesting you ignore the traffic ticket; however, most traffic tickets come with a court date a few months away. Ask for a continuance, which would postpone the date for almost one year. When your court date arrives, you can ask to have your ticket dismissed if the officer who issued it left the force.
Ask for Mitigation. Mitigation may not get rid of the ticket, but it may lower the fine substantially. You can ask for mitigation if it's been years since you last got a ticket. During this process, you plead guilty but explain the circumstances surrounding your infraction. You can also ask the judge for leniency. Although this method doesn't always work for severe offenses, it often does for minor ones.
Contact the Court Clerk. Depending on the jurisdiction where the violation occurred, a clerk may have the authority to lower the traffic ticket down to a non-moving violation, which would not add points to your license. The clerk may also defer your one traffic ticket or recommend that you take a defensive driving course to keep it off your driving history. Usually, you still have to pay a fine for the conviction, but it may be a lesser one.
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