NMA Reboot: Out-Of-State Tickets Can Lead to Nasty Surprises Down the Road

This weekly post features recent news stories that highlight and update themes previously covered throughout NMA E-Newsletters and Alerts.

Editor’s Note: Virginia lawmakers recently enacted a measure to curb aggressive speed trapping practices in the commonwealth by reducing the financial incentives for local police to write high number of tickets. The law lowers the threshold for defining excessive fine amounts and requires municipalities to remit more of that money to the state literary fund. The bill was aimed squarely at the town of Hopewell, where deputies patrol a 1.7 mile stretch of interstate and generate $1.6 million annually in ticket revenue, 75 percent from out-of-state drivers. This last factoid raises questions about what to do if you get a ticket out-of-state. Address it head-on, otherwise it could come back to haunt you as this newsletter demonstrates. 


NMA E-Newsletter #123: Out-of-State Violations: Do The Laws Protect Or Impede Motorists?

Most Americans depend heavily on their license to drive – for their jobs, their family obligations and their recreational travel.

Naturally, some of our driving needs take us out of state. And as is well-known, traffic enforcement tends to focus on out-of-state drivers – maybe because it is that much harder for drivers to successfully contest out-of-state tickets…?

Compounding this problem is the fact that out-of-state violations almost inevitably impact the home-state driver’s license, sometimes even resulting in suspensions. And if out-of-state tickets are hard to contest, then clearing up interstate licensing actions can be nearly impossible.

In the nanny state’s never-ending battle to completely eliminate all driving risk, and its corresponding effort to make sure that every bit of your traffic record is available to every enforcement agency in the land, several compacts have been set up between the states for the sharing of motorists’ driving offense information.

This might be a good thing, if all transportation departments had fair, clear, and consistent rules and procedures for how out-of-state violations should impact home-state license privileges – and those agencies took responsibility for treating motorists fairly when problems arise.

The reality, though, is that such situations lead to vicious circles where neither the bureaucracy of the ticketing state nor the home state is willing to step up and unilaterally correct problems.

There are many such cases, including Jeremy Murray’s struggle to clear up an Indiana suspension based on a New Mexico ticket that he had actually already paid.

These cases are even more unfair and difficult to resolve when they are based on age-old tickets that cash-strapped jurisdictions now suddenly decide should be pursued.

One NMA member reports being denied a license renewal based on a 17-year-old ticket, which, like Murray’s, had already been paid. Can you imagine being required to provide proof of payment for a ticket from 17 years ago…?

Resurrection of ancient ticket prosecutions is a country-wide phenomenon; Pennsylvanian Matthew Petika, for example, is facing jail based on a 19-year-old speeding ticket.

John Jeffords of South Carolina was hounded over a 26-year-old ticket, which also had been paid. Unpaid tickets are also being referred to collection agencies, and threats of jail are being issued as well.

The nearly universal sharing of traffic violation information among the states, in combination with absurdly retroactive enforcement efforts and arbitrary, rigid schemes for license points and suspensions, overseen by pass-the-buck bureaucracies, has created nightmares for many interstate motorists.

The government’s mindset seems to be that there should be more and more resources poured into new laws, punishment schemes and enforcement techniques, but no corresponding efforts to insure accountability when ticket issues get out of control.

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