Criminal Law

Driver License Compact/National Driver Registry

The Interstate Driver Compact and National Driver Registry are government database programs designed to confine every U.S. driver to only one driver's license and driving record, regardless of where the driver lives or where the driver obtained his or her license.

What is the Driver License Compact?

The Driver License Compact (DLC) is an agreement between states to promote highway safety by sharing and transmitting driver and conviction information on driving offenses. The DLC is a major step necessary to maximize law enforcement efforts against drunk drivers and other serious traffic offenders. Serious offenses such as drunk driving, vehicle manslaughter, reckless driving, etc., are no less serious when committed in some other state than when committed in the driver's home state.

Why Do We Need a Driver License Compact?

Without a system for maintaining driving records across state lines, a driver who has had his license suspended could simply move out of state, apply for a new license and avoid the consequences of the suspended license in the prior state.

One of the goals of the DLC is to provide greater uniformity among the member jurisdictions when exchanging information with other members on convictions, records, licenses, withdrawals, and other data pertinent to the licensing process. Uniformity should ease administrative costs when an inquiry is made into a driver's record.

How Does the Driver License Compact Operate?

Under the DLC, the licensing authority in the home state (for the purposes of suspension, revocation, or limitation of the driver's license) shall give the same effect to the conduct reported as it would if such conduct had occurred in the home state. This applies to convictions for manslaughter or negligent homicide resulting from the operation of a vehicle, felonies in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used, failure to stop and give aid in the event of an accident resulting in the death or personal injury of another, and, of course, driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

What if the Traffic Laws of States Differ?

According to the Driver License Compact, such variations (such as different blood alcohol level limits) are addressed by merely requiring that the language and offenses described in each sister state's statutes be "substantially similar" rather than identical. This means, although one state's BAC might be 0.08%, and another state's might be 0.10%, the underlying policy arguments for the existence of the statue are the same (e.g., traffic safety); the Driver License Compact will not be void merely because the statues in each state are slightly different as long as they are substantially similar.

What Is the National Driver Registry?

The National Driver Register (NDR) is a computerized database of information about drivers who have had their licenses revoked or suspended, or who have been convicted of serious traffic violations such as driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

State motor vehicle agencies provide the NDR with the names of individuals who have lost their privilege or who have been convicted of a serious traffic violation. When a person applies for a driver's license the state checks to see if the name is on the NDR file. If a person has been reported to the NDR as a problem driver, the license may be denied.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • Who is authorized to receive information from the NDR?
  • Can I find out if I am listed in the NDR?
  • Can I be convicted in my home state for offenses committed in another state?
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