In the past, we’ve gone over a few situations that involve travel, rental cars and breaking the law:
- If you’re in a rental car and get a traffic violation in another country, do you have to pay it?
- Can you rent a car with a DUI on your driving record?
But what if your situation is closer to home? What if you’re in your own car but on a road trip and get a ticket?
It happens all the time. You’re in a different state and you get caught speeding. Or you didn’t make a full stop at a stop sign. Maybe you failed to signal when you made that right turn and when the cop stopped you, they saw you weren’t wearing your seat belt, either.
When you get that ticket, even if it’s from out of state, you have one of 3 choices to make:
Pay the fine
If you know you’re guilty as charged, this is probably the fastest and easiest way to be done with the whole incident. Depending on the state and where you live, you may get some points on your license, and your insurance rate may or may not go up (again, it depends on a variety of circumstances), but that’d be the worst of it.
If you got a ticket and think you were in the right, you have the right to fight it. But that might involve having to back to the state and county where you got the ticket. Are the time and travel worth it? That’s up to you; it’s a Your Mileage May Vary situation.
Some people might choose this option. I gotta tell ya – it’s probably not the smartest one. Not in this day and age. They’re going to find you like that (snapping my fingers) and pursue what you owe them.
See, there are two compacts (agreements) within the 50 states:
Washington D.C. and all states except GA, MA, MI, TN and WI are members of the DLC.
The 45 member states have all agreed to report all traffic convictions of out-of-state drivers to their respective home states. The drivers’ local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMVs) then generally treat the out-of-state convictions as if they had occurred in each drivers’ home state.
With that, the out-of-state violation will affect the driver’s record the same way as if it had been an in-state violation. So in states that have, say, a point system for traffic violations, the out-of-state ticket could result in the DMV assessing points to the driver’s record (there are some exceptions that vary from state to state).
The only difference is that the fines for the out-of-state violation are collected by the state where the violation occurred.
Washington D.C. and all states except AK, CA, MI, MT, OR, WI and VA are members of the NVC.
When an out-of-state driver gets a traffic ticket, the state where the violation occurred usually doesn’t have much influence in getting the driver to pay the fine. The NVC was created to remedy that issue. The states that are members of the NVC have agreed to suspend any driver’s license who fails to pay an out-of-state fine until the fine is paid or the ticket is otherwise resolved.
So yeah, if you get a ticket, chances are excellent they’re going to find you, even if you don’t live in the state where you got the citation.
But if you’re still somehow considering to take that chance and just ignore the fine, heads up that you’re potentially looking at the temporary loss of your driver’s license, higher car insurance costs (if they don’t drop you entirely), and potentially going to jail.
I suggest paying the fine and getting it over with.
Feature Photo: Jimmy Emerson, DMV / flickr
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary