Do Speeding Tickets Cross State Lines?

Published: 22nd June 2010
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Copyright (c) 2010 James Parrish

Say you traveled to another state for your Memorial Day vacation, and received a ticket for speeding or other moving traffic violation. Does it follow you back to your home state?

The quick and dirty answer is a resounding YES. You can always hope for a bureaucratic error, or some kind of technical problem in the database sharing, but it sure isn't likely.

When it comes to drivers licensing, there are three main databases that track your info: the National Driver Register, the Driver License Compact, and the Non-Resident Violator Compact. There is also the Driver License Agreement, but we'll get to that in a minute.

Start with the basics.

The National Driver Register The NDR was created about 10 years ago, and is what most people are thinking of when they hear something along the lines of "national dmv database."

While it's true that licensing is something that's left up to each individual state (and thus each state will have vastly different laws), every state and the District of Columbia submits any information to the NDR, and are in turn required to check a person's info through the NDR before granting a license.

Suppose, for example. you hold a Virginia license which is up for renewal. The Virginia department of transportation will most likely check the NDR three months before you are up for renewal. If they find any sort of violation that needs to be attended to (say you got a DUI or ticket while on vacation in another state) they will notify you. In that case, you would need to resolve the issue before you could renew your Virginia license.

While only certain groups can access your NDR records (which consist of your name, gender, DOB, license number, and state of offense-note this does not include the type of offense), you have every right to request a copy of your file by contacting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 202-366-4800.

The Driver License Compact and the Non-Resident Violator Compact These agreements between states are the reason tickets actually follow you. The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administration came up with these compacts to regulate offenses nationwide. Of course, licensing is still a states' right-think of these as treaties that most states have opted into.

While the NDR simply notifies a state that you have a violation elsewhere, the DLC basically equivocates violations across states.

Back to the Virginia-Florida example. If you received a speeding ticket while on vacation in Florida, Virginia will actually be able to assess points to your Virginia license. If your Florida violation was enough to suspend your license there, Virginia would suspend your license (provided the offense would be worthy of suspension if committed in Virginia).

The DLC is a lot more intensive than either the NRVC or the NDR. While the NRVC works the same way, your home state doesn't issue penalties and points on your license.

So who opts in? Well, all are in the NDR, and most of the states have opted into the DLC and NVRC. Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Massachusetts are not members of the DLC. Wisconsin, California, Michigan, Montana, Oregon and Alaska are not members of the NVRC.

And of course, the information states record and submit varies.

The Driver License Agreement

This is the big one. The DLA was drafted in 2004 (full text available here) to close some of the loopholes of the prior two compacts. Any state that agrees to the DLA is saying that DLA regulations supersede state laws.

Suppose you were cited in another state for reckless driving, but your state doesn't have such violation. Under the DLA, your home state would be required to find a comparable citation to issue you. The DLA would also require states to make information such as the nature of the offense and your Social Security number available to member AND non-member states.

The AAMVA is working to get the DLA passed in all US states, as well as internationally. So while your out-of-state ticket may have been lost in the system before, you need to be far more careful in the future.


James Parrish is a traffic lawyer and DWI/DUI attorney in Manassas, Warrenton, and Woodbridge, Virginia. Mr. Parrish formerly represented law enforcement agencies and instructs law enforcement officers. His firm offers free consumer's guides on various aspects of the law including DWI/DUI, reckless driving, dog bites/attacks and automobile accidents.

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