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What you need to know about the New York Driver License Compact

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drivers license compact

What you need to know about the New York Driver License Compact

New York residents who drive in other states may be issued traffic tickets in those states. The same is true for out-of-state licensed drivers driving in New York. Ignoring altogether or not remaining timely on out-of-state tickets, however, can quickly lead to problems similar to those one would experience in their own state.

The engine that drives (pun intended) all this cooperation and communication between states is called the Driver License Compact.  The Compact is an agreement between states and is used to exchange data between a motorist’s home state and a state where the motorist incurred a traffic violation or traffic-related criminal act.

Most states are members and must respond to the data differently based on their own internal motor vehicle rules and regulations. Keep reading to learn more about the Drivers License Compact and other important agreements.

New York drivers with out-of-state tickets and out-of-state drivers with New York tickets

There are a few reciprocal agreements between New York, other U.S. states, and Canadian provinces concerning the exchange of information and the treatment of drivers who receive out-of-state tickets.

1. Driver License Compact

In the Driver License Compact established through New York VTL 516, participating states have agreed to share driver information concerning out-of-state convictions linked to the use or operation of a motor vehicle.

Further, the states subject to the Compact also have agreed to treat a variety of out-of-state convictions as though they had occurred in the home state, including:

New York and all but five other states in the U.S. are subject to the Driver License Compact. While all the states are in agreement on the four bullet point matters above, when it comes to typical traffic violations each member state tends to have its own way of dealing with out-of-state convictions.

New York will not put a typical traffic violation that occurs in one of the other states on your New York driving record. However, NY will put a violation on your record if it occurs in Ontario or Quebec. New Jersey is an example of a state that will put an out-of-state conviction on the NJ driving record but will attribute a flat two points regardless of how many points that same violation might have been in the state where it was issued or if it was issued in NJ.

Treat an out-of-state violation the same as an in-state violation

Each state has different rules, but the Compact allows states to know what their drivers are up to when they travel outside state borders. Licensed drivers in New York should take an out-of-state violation just as seriously as they would a traffic violation in New York State.

2. Nonresident Violator Compact

A second driving agreement is active among 44 states — excluding Alaska, California, Michigan, Montana, Oregon, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Through the Nonresident Violator Compact, the states that are a part of this agreement suspend the home state license of a driver who receives a moving violation ticket in another member state and fails to resolve it as legally required.

What the Nonresident Violator Compact means for New York drivers who receive tickets out of state is that they may lose their licensed privilege to drive in New York due to failure to pay or appear on tickets and/or other driving-related negligence in other states.

Drivers often think that their tickets and violations in other states will remain there when they return home, but the Nonresident Violator Compact ensures that your license is at risk for unpaid violations and failure to appear on matters in any of the 43 states other than New York, which is part of it.

3. National Driver Registry

The National Driver Registry maintains a database containing information on all drivers whose licenses have been suspended or revoked, and all drivers who have been convicted of a serious traffic violation. All 50 states participate in the National Driver Registry.

Canadian drivers with New York tickets

New York also has agreements with some provinces in Canada concerning the sharing of moving violation convictions. Through these agreements, it is possible for your moving violation tickets and convictions to follow you home south of the border when you return to New York State.

drivers license compact

1. Reciprocal agreement with Ontario and Quebec

Canadian drivers from Ontario and Quebec with New York tickets, and New York Drivers with Canadian tickets in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, are subject to a reciprocal agreement concerning the sharing of moving violation convictions.

Drivers can expect their home state or province to treat a ticket issued out of state or province just as if it was issued at home.

Yes, these laws are confusing

The New York Department of Motor Vehicles or DMV does not count out-of-state convictions in the U.S. of non-commercially licensed New York drivers. However, the New York DMV does count convictions for non-commercially licensed drivers that are received in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.  This alone is an example of how convoluted the rules can be.

Another example is the lack of direct reciprocity between the two states.  A New York licensed driver with a typical moving violation in New Jersey won’t need to worry about it appearing on their New York record but a New Jersey licensed driver with a moving violation in New York does need to worry about it appearing on their New Jersey driving record.

There may be a different rule for each state regarding out-of-state traffic violations.  It’s not easy to follow and there’s nothing inherently logical about it.

Moreover, there are issues beyond just whether a traffic violation would show on your home state record if it was issued in another state.  Will there be points with it?  If so, how many?  What happens if you are not timely with it?  What happens if you don’t pay a fine on time?  What happens if you get suspended in another state?  Will your home state know about any of this? Can it affect your insurance?

What it all means: Speak with an attorney before paying your ticket

Whether in-state or out-of-state, traffic tickets and related issues might seem relatively minor in the grand scheme of legal matters but when points, suspensions, employment, insurance, etc. are all considered it’s clear that the repercussions are potentially severe.

It’s important to not make assumptions regarding a ticket you might receive out of state. Speak to someone in your home state and you may need to speak to someone in the state where the ticket was issued as well.  It’s very important to know what you are doing before you just “pay the ticket.”

There’s never a downside to connecting with us to learn about your options and the issues you should be considering. Your initial consultation is risk-free and cost-free.  Call Feifer & Greenberg at (888) 842-5384 or visit our site to contact us for a consultation.


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