Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Fall 2020 Edition of the National Motorists Association’s Quarterly Magazine Driving Freedoms. If you would like to support the NMA, become a member today!
Tennessee joined 46 other states and the District of Columbia this summer in the Interstate Driver License Compact. States use the Compact to exchange information about a driver’s record, including license suspensions and traffic violations. The four holdout states include Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Actually, in 2007, Nevada repealed the legislation authorizing its inclusion in the DLC. So it is not a member, but since then, it still generally conforms to the exchange of information. Nevada also has the distinction of being the first state to join the Compact. The DLC is, indeed, a tangled web.
So, how does this affect you? Quite simply, if you receive an out-of-state ticket and don’t pay it, you could have legal problems if both states are in the Compact.
The home state treats any out-of-state offense as if it were committed at home. In fact, reaching a plea bargain for reduced penalties with the charging state is no guarantee that the driver won’t still face additional and stiffer penalties at home.
Penalties include points assessed for traffic violations, suspension of a license, or a major violation such as a DUI. Typically, charges not reported to the state, including non-moving violations, parking tickets, and even automated camera tickets, are not part of the Compact information exchange.
Even though New Jersey belongs to the Compact, state lawmakers have been working on preventing NJ drivers from being issued red-light and speed camera tickets from other states. Bill S486 presented to the Senate Transportation Committee would prohibit the Motor Vehicle Commissioner and other state officials from disclosing any NJ driver’s personal information to states seeking to impose automated ticket fines. The Garden State, along with 18 other states and 36 cities, has banned photo traffic enforcement. South Dakota has had a similar law in effect since 2014.
State Senator Declan O’Scanlan said these kinds of out-of-state tickets victimize New Jerseyans. He added, “We’re calling this bill the Automated Enforcement Inoculation Act, so we defend residents against the corrupt automated enforcement camera, red-light camera, and speed camera industry that has been rife with corruption everywhere it’s used.”
A similar NJ bill was passed out of the Senate in 2016 but did not get through the Assembly. The bipartisan 2020 version was unanimously voted out of the Transportation Committee but has not yet been voted on by the full Senate.
The efforts to limit the extent of the Driver License Compact by state legislators like Mr. O’Scanlon are critical. Consider the motto of the DLC: “One Driver, One License, One Record.” Combined with the Compact’s reason for being─the sharing of driver records among states─puts us that much closer to a national drivers’ database with increased threats to personal privacy and greater vulnerability to identity theft and fraud.