Nothing puts a damper on a vacation, a trip to visit family or a successful business trip like a traffic ticket. It can be easy to get a citation when you’re in an area you don’t know very well. You might not have been aware of the speed limit, not seen a stop sign or run afoul of a law you didn’t even know existed. On the other hand, you may have just had the misfortune to be driving in an area where police pull people over for just about anything.
Whatever the situation, if you live in another state, does that North Carolina ticket really “count?” Can you just go back home, rip it up and forget about it? Yes, it does count, and no, you can’t forget about it because the issuing law enforcement agency in North Carolina won’t. Neither, likely will your home state.
The Driver’s License Compact
North Carolina, like the vast majority of states, is a signatory to the Driver’s License Compact. That’s an interstate compact that requires states to exchange information regarding traffic violations (no matter how minor or serious) in their state with the driver’s home state. (However, it doesn’t include non-moving violations.)
The home state is then expected to treat the offense the same as they would if it occurred there. This means that points can accrue on your driver’s license, and you could even have your license suspended based on alleged violations or unpaid tickets issued in other states. The motto of the compact is “One Driver, One License, One Record.”
Of course, if you have a moving violation, you can count on the fact that your insurance company won’t consider where it happened before raising your rates. That’s another reason why it’s worth contesting the ticket if you believe you weren’t in the wrong.
You can contest the citation
Some law enforcement agencies may hope that out-of-state drivers will just pay the fine and won’t want to take the time and trouble to come back to contest their citation. Depending on the violation, that may not even be necessary. If you seek legal assistance from within North Carolina, you may be able to challenge your citation without having to return to the state. For a more serious offense like a DUI or DWI, it’s particularly crucial to have in-state legal guidance. It’s important to explore your options.