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In “the good old days,” if you got a speeding ticket in a state other than the one in which you were licensed, you did not have much to worry about. Many people traveling through a state who got a speeding ticket did not even bother to pay it, knowing that the chances were slim that the crime would ever be brought home to them. However, in these days of instant information and nationwide databases, those rules no longer apply.
If you receive a speeding ticket in another state, the chances are very good that your home state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (and your car insurance company) will know about it in short order. A huge database known as the Driver License Compact, or DLC, makes information available in almost all states about violations committed in other states.
How many states access the Driver License Compact (DLC) Database?
Currently, every state except Georgia, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin is a member of the DLC database. If you get a speeding ticket in one of these four states, you might slip by without your insurance company finding out. However, if you get a speeding ticket in any of the other states, the chances are that your infraction will be sent to your home state and registered on your state’s DMV database soon after the disposition of your ticket.
The DLC was set up to curb the problem of repeat offenses on the part of those who travel frequently. In some cases, people were racking up dozens of speeding tickets without paying the fines or having any effect on their insurance rates. Now, with the advent of the DLC, this is no longer possible.
Once a speeding ticket has been recorded on the national database and your home state picks it up, the state DMV may assign points to your license based on its own interpretation of your infraction. For example, if your state normally assigns three points for a speeding ticket which is more than 15 miles per hour over the limit, it stands to reason that this infraction in another state will cost you three points on your license in your home state, as well. In this way, you can quickly accumulate points on your license if you have multiple speeding tickets, even if they are in different states.
Even more importantly, someone who commits an offense such as a repeat-offender DUI cannot simply apply for a license in another state with no consequences. Another database called the National Driver Register, or NDR, records all suspensions nationwide and reports them. In this way, a drivers license agency in one state can check the record and see if your license is under suspension in another state.
How can I reduce the impact of a ticket on my car insurance rates?
If you receive a speeding ticket in another state, there are several things you can do to reduce the impact on your license and your insurance rates. First of all, no matter what, do not leave the ticket unpaid. Unpaid tickets incur additional fines and possible legal action, and can adversely affect your driving record, which can be reported to your home state.
You should also see if the state in which your ticket was given has any program to allow you to “erase” the ticket from your record. Some states offer special programs which allow you to remove a ticket from your record if you attend certain classes or complete certain requirements. Some of these classes are even offered online so that you can attend from your home state.
If you do receive an out-of-state ticket, talk to your insurance agent to find out exactly how much your insurance will go up. It is possible, if the ticket is for a very small infraction, such as speeding ten miles per hour over the limit, your insurance company may not even raise your rates. Some insurance companies do not raise rates unless you accumulate a certain number of points on your license within a short period of time.