Common Reasons You Might Get a Ticket While You’re Traveling
The general reasons you could get a ticket while you’re traveling are going to be similar to your home state. However, you may be more likely to get a ticket while you’re on vacation because you could be in a hurry, you could be tired from driving and not paying as much attention as you should, or you could be driving an unfamiliar rental car.
You might also be trying to use navigation, or you might not know the laws about cell phone and device use in your destination.
Some of the most common reasons for tickets include:
Speeding: If you’re speeding, you’re going to get a police officer’s attention quickly which is the last thing you want. When you’re traveling, be mindful of how your car handles if it’s a rental. Pay attention to posted speed limits and know they can change quickly. You might even receive a ticket after you get home from your trip if a camera caught you.
Reckless driving: Reckless driving is a pretty broad set of actions that could end up getting you a ticket. For example, speeding a certain amount over the limit can qualify as reckless driving, as can swerving into other lanes or doing something that’s blatantly risky.
Not coming to a complete stop: This one is easy not to notice you’re doing, but it can still get you a ticket when you’re traveling or otherwise. You might not have fully stopped at a red light or maybe you turned at a red light before you fully stopped. Regardless and no matter how minor it might seem, it could get you a ticket.
Skipping your turn signals: Not using your turn signal is rude to other drivers, dangerous and it could get you a ticket too. If you merge or turn without a signal, you could cause an accident beyond just facing the potential of a ticket.
Not giving pedestrians the right of way: This is a big issue when you’re traveling. Where you live, you might not see a lot of pedestrians because a lot of cities and towns aren’t that walkable. When you’re out of town, this might not be the case and pedestrians have the right of way.
Using your phone: This can get you a ticket even if you’re just trying to check your navigation in an unfamiliar place.
Drinking and driving: The risks and legal repercussions of this go beyond just getting a ticket, so don’t ever put yourself in a situation where you have alcohol and get behind the wheel, whether you’re traveling or otherwise.
So, what happens if you are out of state, and you get a ticket for something above or any other reason?
Don’t Ignore It
First, if you get a ticket out of state you might think when you go home, you can just ignore it. That’s the worst thing you can do.
If you don’t pay a traffic ticket, then the longer you put it off, the more you’re responsible for ultimately paying. The penalties can also get steeper.
If you miss a deadline for paying a traffic ticket, then the fine continuously goes up. It could even double if you miss the deadline.
Failing to pay a traffic ticket can add points to your license, meaning you’ll pay more in insurance.
You may also get your license suspended if you don’t pay your ticket. You should receive a notice before that happens, and there should be options to avoid it, but if you don’t do what’s outlined in the timeframe given, your license will be suspended.
Then, if you get a notice about your license being suspended and you continue to ignore the ticket, there will be a warrant issued for your arrest in most states. If you were pulled over for any reason and there was an active warrant for your arrest, you might face jail time.
What You Should Do
If you get a traffic ticket in another state, you have just two good options. Show up for court, or pay the fine.
If you’re going to fight the ticket, then you should hire a lawyer in the state and location where you got it to represent you. Otherwise, you’re going to have to go back to the state for your hearing and represent yourself. Some states will let you contest a traffic ticket by written declaration instead of coming to court in person, but you may need to consult with a local lawyer to see if this is an option.
How Out of State Tickets Affect Your Record
Generally, if you get a ticket in a different state than the one you live in, the state where you got it will report it to your state. That means it will show up on your record because of something called the Driver License Compact or DLC.
The DLC is an agreement between 46 states as well as D.C. Participating states share driving history information with one another, including violations and license suspensions.
The only states that aren’t part of the DLC are Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Tennessee. That doesn’t mean that you won’t be reported to your home state if you get a ticket in those locations. It just means they don’t have to report you.