NMA Email Newsletter: Issue #68

Out of State But Not Out of Mind

We recently received an “Ask a Ticket Question” from a North Carolina resident — we’ll call him Joe Smith — who was cited for speeding in Missouri. The ticket was issued for allegedly going 81 mph in a 65 mph zone. Smith was told by the Missouri prosecutor that 20+ mph over the speed limit would result in a reckless driving charge and a suspended license, but since he was “only” 16 mph over, he could pay the fine and not receive points on his license. That is what he decided to do.

Fast forward to six months later. Joe received a letter from the North Carolina DOT advising that his drivers license was being suspended for thirty days. He was puzzled by what he called “being caught in the crossfire” between states.

Joe fell victim to the Driver License Compact, an interstate agreement between most states (Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Tennessee are not currently members of the compact) to exchange information about traffic violations between the non-resident state and the cited driver’s state of residence. Joe found out the hard way that North Carolina classifies reckless driving as being 15+ mph over the speed limit, and when the report of his Missouri violation finally reached his home state, North Carolina applied its prescribed penalty to Joe’s case.

When receiving an out-of-state ticket for a moving violation, it is wise to know what the potential penalties are in both the ticketing state as well as your state of residence before entering a plea. Your strategy for dealing with an out-of-state ticket may well be affected by that knowledge.

Even if a non-member state is involved, states that are members are free to apply penalties on violations if the report gets back to them. Joe faced the hardship of losing his driving privileges for a temporary period, and he almost certainly would have fought the original ticket more aggressively had he known of that possible outcome.

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