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How Out of State Traffic Tickets Can Haunt You
Traffic tickets are generally viewed as minor inconveniences or costly nuisances, which, once paid or addressed in court, no longer pose a problem. However, old traffic tickets can have long-term implications, especially when one decides to move to another state. It’s critical to understand how your previous violations can affect your driving record, and consequently, your life in a new state.
Receiving a Traffic Ticket
First, let’s get some clarity on what happens when you receive a traffic ticket. Every time you are issued a ticket, points are added to your driving record. Each state has its own point system, and the points can remain on your record for a few years, depending on the state’s law. If you accrue too many points, your driver’s license could be suspended. This point system isn’t only confined to your current state. As you might have guessed, there is interstate infrastructure in place to ensure that traffic law violators are held accountable for their actions.
The Driver License Compact
The Driver License Compact (DLC) is an agreement among 46 states (which includes the District of Columbia) that allows them to exchange information concerning license suspensions and traffic violations of non-residents and forward it to the home state of the licensee. That means your traffic ticket will likely follow you across state lines.
There are states that do not participate in the DLC, however; those include:
Now, let’s discuss some examples of individuals who may have believed that crossing state lines meant leaving their traffic woes behind.
I Fought the Law and the Law Won
Let’s say you have a friend named John who lived in Florida and had accumulated a few traffic violations for speeding and one for driving under the influence. He thought that moving to California would provide a fresh start, leaving behind his tarnished driving record. However, because both Florida and California are members of the DLC, California was notified of John’s traffic violations in Florida. Due to the DUI violation, which is considered a severe offense, John had to face stricter scrutiny for his driving behavior in California, and his license was at risk of being suspended due to his past records.
Here’s another example – your friend Jane, who lived in California, had an unpaid speeding ticket from a trip she made to Texas. She later moved to Washington, thinking that the old, unpaid Texas ticket was a thing of the past. However, Texas and Washington are both members of the Non-Resident Violator Compact (NRVC), an agreement among 44 states that ensures out-of-state traffic violations are dealt with.
States that are not members of the Non-Resident Violator Compact are:
It so happens that, in this example, Jane was living in California, which is not a member of the NRVC, but her new residency in Washington meant that she had moved to a state which shares traffic violation information with Texas. As a result, Texas notified Washington about Jane’s unpaid ticket, meaning her driving privileges were suspended in Washington until she paid off her Texas ticket.
How to Avoid an Interstate Headache
So, what can you do to avoid such situations? The best practice is to address any traffic tickets promptly, even minor ones. If you’ve recently moved to a new state, it would be prudent to check the status of any outstanding tickets in your previous state. If you find you have any, resolve them immediately. Not only will this keep your driving record clean, but it can also save you from unnecessary stress and potential additional fines in your new state.
If you’re unsure how to go about addressing any traffic violations on your driving record, then reach out to a local attorney who specializes in traffic law.
An Attorney Can Make All the Difference
If you or a loved one is dealing with an out of state traffic ticket, then hiring a qualified attorney to represent you in the court of law can be the edge you need to avoid hefty fines and license suspensions. While traffic law is complex, a lawyer at your side will help you to navigate the process smoothly and effectively.