What happens if I get an out-of-state speeding ticket?

On the Road 3 min read

When you obtain your driver’s license in the United States, you can drive anywhere in the country, but you must follow the local road rules. If a law enforcement officer issues you an out-of-state speeding ticket for a violation, you’re responsible for resolving it — even if the state that wrote it isn’t the state where your vehicle is registered.

What are traffic ticket reciprocity states?

In most cases, if you get an out-of-state traffic ticket, your home state will find out about it thanks to the Driver’s License Compact (DLC). The DLC is an agreement between nearly every state to report traffic violations out of state to the licensing authority in the driver’s home state. According to Ballotpedia, all but five states — Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin — participate in the DLC. Rules for handling out-of-state violations vary, but most states add them to your driving record.

Even though your home state may add the infraction to your driving record, you must resolve the ticket with the state where the offense occurred. You could face additional penalties based on the Nonresident Violator Compact (NVC) if you don’t. States that participate in the NVC notify your home state when you don’t pay a ticket, and your home state typically suspends your license if you don’t pay the fine by a certain date. If the state suspends your license, you may need to pay an additional fee to reinstate it, depending on where you live.

According to Ballotpedia, all states are members of the NVC except Alaska, California, Michigan, Montana, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Virginia. It’s worth noting that states that aren’t members of the DLC or NVC have other ways of communicating with other states about traffic violations across state lines. You’re not off the hook if you get a ticket in a state that’s not a member of these compacts.

How do I fight an out-of-state speeding ticket?

Contesting a ticket can sometimes result in reduced or waived fines. In some situations, you may be able to convince the judge to dismiss the charge, which means it won’t get added to your driving record. However, fighting an out-of-state speeding ticket is more challenging than fighting one in your home state because you’ll likely need to appear in court where the violation happened.

You have a few options if you want to contest a ticket in another state.

  • Travel to the state: Go to the state where the violation occurred and fight the ticket in person.
  • Fight it in writing: Some states allow you to contest a ticket in writing. If you received a ticket in one of these states, you could submit a written appeal explaining your side of the story.
  • Hire an attorney: Some states allow you to send an attorney to represent you in court if you can’t be present.

How do I pay an out-of-state speeding ticket?

When you receive a speeding citation, all the information you need to pay the fine is on the ticket. You’ll find the amount you owe, due date, acceptable payment methods, and where to send payment. You must pay the fine by the due date. Otherwise, you could face more severe penalties. Learn more about penalties for unpaid tickets.

Do I get points on my license for out-of-state tickets?

It depends where you live. If your home state assesses points for speeding and other traffic violations, the licensing authority may add points to your driving record. But some states don’t add points for out-of-state tickets, so you’ll need to check the laws in your state to know for sure.

Getting a ticket may also impact your auto insurance. Learn more about how a speeding ticket impacts insurance rates.

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