Criminal Law

Out-of-State Traffic Violations

Drivers may travel through many different states for various reasons. Some may be on vacation with their families. Others may have to travel for business reasons. The more drivers travel through the states, the greater the chance they'll commit a traffic violation in a state that they don't live in.

Traffic violations can range from minor violations, such as not wearing a seat belt, to major violations, such as driving under the influence. Although a traffic violation may happen in another state, chances are great that the driver's home state will find out about it. Out-of-state violations can affect driving privileges just the same as if they occur in the home state.

Interstate Traffic Violation Compacts

Most states have reached agreements to exchange information concerning traffic violations. The Driver License Compact (DLC) and the Non-Resident Violator Compact (NRVC) are agreements to share violation information. These compacts attempt to promote uniformity and safety for all drivers.

Under the DLC, the states make sure that any information on traffic violations by an out-of-state driver is received by the home state. The DLC is made up of 45 states. The only states not included are:

  • Georgia
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Tennessee
  • Wisconsin

Under the NRVC, the states attempt to standardize the methods they use to punish out-of-state traffic violations. For example, if a driver fails to pay a traffic ticket in another state, the home state will suspend his driver's license until he takes care of it. The NRVC is made up of 44 states. The only states not included are:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Oregon
  • Wisconsin

Only Michigan and Wisconsin are not members of either the DLC or the NRVC. However, even though a state may not be a member of a traffic violation compact, it still may report a violation to the home state.

The DLC and the NRVC are currently being combined and revised into the Driver License Agreement (DLA). This agreement is supposed to be more efficient and effective for states to share traffic violation information.

Driver's License Penalty Point System

Most states use a penalty point system to keep track of any traffic violations. Each specific traffic violation has a set point value, usually based on the severity of the violation. If a driver receives too many points in a given time period, his license can be suspended. Points stay on the driver's record for a set time, usually two years.

States differ as to how to assess points for out-of-state traffic violations. Many states will only assess points if the severity of the violation is great. Others will assess only a set amount of points, such as two points, for any out-of-state violation. While some states will assess points as if the violation occurred in the home state, a few don't assess points for any out-of-state violations.

Defending an Out-of-State Ticket

If a driver receives a ticket for an out-of-state violation, he has to decide if it's worth it to go back to that state to contest the ticket. In most cases, the best course is to pay the ticket. The cost of hiring an attorney and traveling to the other state might not be worth the time and effort.

If a driver does decide to contest the ticket, it might be best to hire an attorney to help arrange a plea bargain. The attorney may be able to reduce the violation charge so that no points are assessed. She may also be able to resolve the ticket without the driver having to go to court.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • If I receive a ticket in another state, will my home state be notified about it?
  • Will I receive any penalty points on my record if I receive a traffic ticket for speeding in another state?
  • Is it worth the time and effort to contest a traffic ticket I received in another state that's far away?

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