Man being issued a traffic ticket while out of state

So, you took a road trip and received a citation outside of your home state. It can be intimidating enough trying to deal with your local court system, let alone trying to deal with legal issues across state lines. So, what do you need to know? Read on to find out.

Will my home state know that I have received a ticket in another state?

If your home state is Arizona, then yes. The state that issued your citation will notify your state. There are two primary mechanisms used to share this type of information. The first is what’s known as the “Nonresident Violator Compact” or NVC, and the second is the “Driver’s License Compact,” or DLC.

Between the NVC and the DLC, every state besides Michigan and Wisconsin is a part of an agreement to share traffic citation information. However, they each go about this a little differently.

How does the NVC work?

As anyone who enjoys a good crime movie can attest, prosecuting crimes between jurisdictions can be difficult to impossible. The NVC seeks to address that. The way it works is very similar to the DLC. Upon receiving a citation, the state that issued it will inform your home state. The terms of the agreement dictate that your license will be suspended in your home state, even if you have an otherwise clean driving record, until you address your other citation.

You can visit the National Center for Interstate Compacts website to see if your state, or the issuing state, is a participant. The upshot is that it’s not something you can ignore. The consequences will follow you home.

How does the DLC work?

Not to be confused with downloadable content, the DLC agreement works slightly differently than the NVC. If your home state is part of the DLC, which Arizona is, the DMV will act as if your out-of-state ticket occurred within the state.

What does that mean? Any adverse effect you might have been subject to if the violation occurred in Arizona will be applied to your driving record. So, you’ll receive punitive effects, such as license suspension, points on your license, or any other penalties tied to your citation. However, you will still be responsible for paying the fines and fees to the state that issued your citation. These states may accumulate points and penalties on your driving record there as well.

It may sound complicated, but the bottom line is simple. You can check your state’s DLC status at the National Center for Interstate Compacts website.

I’ve received an out-of-state ticket. What should I do?

Your options would be similar to those that would be available to you if you’d received the ticket in your home state.

First and foremost, you can cooperate with the municipal court that issued your citation. You’ll almost certainly have fines and fees to pay, but there could be other potential punishments as well, depending on the nature of your violation.

Paying is generally a good option. Contesting a ticket out of state can easily be more expensive than simply paying it. Some courts will allow you to contest the ticket in writing, but that’s far from the norm.

Generally, paying the ticket and moving on will be your best option. Should you choose to contest it, you will have to either appear personally in court, meaning you’ll have to pay to travel back to that state or hire a lawyer to represent you. Anyone who knows anything about lawyers knows that this route will also often be more expensive than the price of your initial citation.

As discussed earlier, if you choose to ignore the citation, you’ll begin accumulating additional fines and penalties in not one but two individual states. Not dealing with the issue can become problematic and expensive very quickly so, whatever you do, you’ll want to address your out-of-state ticket as soon as possible.

Can I opt to take traffic school in the state that issued my ticket?

Suppose you’re interested in traffic school or a defensive driving course to help reduce the penalties or dismiss your ticket altogether. In that case, you will need to contact the court system of the state or municipality that issued your citation.

Each state’s traffic school regulations are different, and you’ll have to inquire with your issuing body specifically to find out if you’re eligible. There may be on an online option that you can take or equivalent in your state that’s available to you. Then again, there may not. Be prepared to deal with your citation and pay your fine.

Can there be insurance implications?

There sure can be. Depending on your citation and how you’ve handled it, you may face an increase in insurance premiums. Pleading guilty and paying your fine is one of the many ways insurance companies might increase your rates.

The only thing that’s for sure is that failing to address your ticket can result in severely harsher penalties, eventually impacting your insurance premium.

What’s the bottom line?

It should be fairly clear by now. Under no circumstance do you want to let your out-of-state ticket go unaddressed. You might choose to dispute it but plan accordingly if you do so. The time and expense involved will usually be more trouble than it’s worth.

The last thing anyone wants is to run afoul of not one, but two traffic courts. Sometimes the simple act of paying what you owe is your best course of action. If an online defensive driving course is an option in the state that issued your citation, find one here to get started!