What Happens if You Get a Speeding Ticket in Another State?

How out-of-state traffic tickets affect your home-state driving record.

By , Attorney

With a valid state driver's license, you are generally authorized to lawfully drive in any other state. But, of course, all drivers must abide by the driving laws of the state where they're operating a vehicle. So, what happens if you get a traffic ticket while driving out-of-state? Most states are parties to interstate agreements that were designed specifically to deal with keeping track of out-of-state violations. Here are some of the basics of how these agreements work.

How Your Home State Will Know if You Get a Ticket in Another State

Most states are members of the "Driver's License Compact" (DLC) and the "Nonresident Violator Compact" (NVC). All states except Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin are members of the DLC. And, all states except Alaska, California, Michigan, Montana, Oregon, and Wisconsin are members of the NVC. So, that leaves only two states—Michigan and Wisconsin—that aren't members of either agreement.

Driver's License Compact

The states that are members of the DLC have all agreed to report all traffic convictions of out-of-state drivers to the home state of the driver. The Department of Motor Vehicles (or the state agency in charge of driving licensing and the like) then generally treats the out-of-state conviction as if it had occurred in the driver's home state.

In other words, the out-of-state violation will affect the driver's record in the same way that an in-state violation would. So, in states that have traffic violation point systems, the out-of-state ticket will result in the DMV assessing points to the driver's record. However, the fines for the out-of-state violation are collected by the state where the violation occurred.

Nonresident Compact

When an out-of-state driver gets a traffic ticket, the state where the violation occurred generally doesn't have much influence in getting the driver to pay the fine. The NVC was created to remedy this problem. The states that are members of the NVC have agreed to suspend the license of any driver who fails to pay an out-of-state fine until that fine is paid or the ticket otherwise resolved.

Fighting an Out-of-State Ticket

Contesting a traffic ticket normally requires you or your attorney to come to the traffic court several times. So, unless you live close to the state line, it can be inconvenient to fight an out-of-state ticket unless you want to hire a traffic attorney to go to court for you.

Some states also allow drivers to contest a traffic ticket by written declaration rather than coming to court in person. Of course, this method makes it easier for out-of-state drivers to contest a ticket.

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