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The Short Answer: Yes, if you get a ticket anywhere except Michigan and Wisconsin.

A conviction for an out of state speeding ticket MAY have consequences in your home state under one of three interstate “compacts” or agreements. They are the DLC (“Driver License Compact”), the NRVC (“Non-Resident Violator Compact”) and the DLA (“Driver License Agreement”). Whether you will actually suffer these consequences depends first and foremost on whether your home state (where you reside, where your driver license was issued) is one of the compacts’ member states. To date Michigan and Wisconsin appear to be the only states that HAVE NOT SUBSCRIBED to these interstate compacts. That means that if you live in these states and have a license from these states, these states will not take DLC/NRVC/DLA action on your drivers license if you get convicted of a simple speeding ticket in another state. The matter can be more complicated, however, and you should read more below.

The Long Answer: It depends.  Read on…

For most of us, this is never a consideration, for one reason or another. Maybe it’s because we never drive too fast. Maybe we always have the luck o the Irish never to be stopped by the county mounties. Maybe we don’t travel out of state. Maybe we never drive a car in another state. Whatever the case, having a ticket in a foreign jurisdiction may never be of the least concern. Still, there’s a contingent of folks for whom this is a big deal. Like the guy who came to my office the other day. This fellow is a sales manager and has to ride herd over a sales force that spans ten different states. Lots and lots (and lots) of out of state travel, by car. See the set up? It seems that recently he was stopped in the Raleigh-Durham area by a North Carolina Highway Patrolman (State Trooper) for driving twenty mph over the limit in a seventy mph zone (90 in a 70). Of course he was “just keeping up with traffic” -as he told the cop- but, nice as he was, he couldn’t talk himself out of this one. Oh well. Now for anyone else, NC residents I mean, a simple speeding ticket like this is not the end of the world. With a little cajoling, negotiating and discussing, I can often get the DA to reduce the speed to something that doesn’t cause a lot of havoc, increase insurance rates, or -God forbid- result in license revocation. But hear what I say: that’s for NC residents (which this chap is not). So what happens, he wants to know, when he gets ticketed in a foreign jurisdiction? Is it reported to his home state? Will there be consequences? It seems his boss is required to review the guy’s driving record periodically to make sure he’s not too big a risk for his company to keep him out on the road. Clearly this guy needs to know what’s up. So here it is.

Way back when (before 1960), if you drove in one state, got busted for something, maybe a DWI (DUI), and were convicted, so long as your license was issued from another state and you resided in that state, you were pretty much in the clear as far as “home state consequences” were concerned. There was simply no broad-scale mechanism for reporting “foreign state convictions” to a driver’s home state. Times were good if you were an out of state speeder! Needless to say, however, that didn’t sit too well with the various state governments. Look at it like this: if a guy knows he can drive out of state like a crazy man, get busted, and then go back home without having to face the music, he’s really been successful at evading the law. Carried to an extreme, it seemed to suggest that out of state drivers were simply beyond punishment; they had only to return to their “safe” home states. With no conviction reported from the foreign jurisdiction, they were free to enjoy clean driving records when in fact their out of state conduct may have been less than exemplary. Obviously a loop hole in the law, but not for long!

Beamer Resolution of 1958

Under the Beamer Resolution, or Interstate Compact for Highway Safety Resolution, (sponsored by John V. Beamer, R-Indiana) states were given automatic authority to enter into compacts with other states to further the cause of traffic safety, or “Driver License Compacts” (DLC). The gist of the compacts so formed was to allow cooperating “home states” to penalize a foreign-state action (like an out of state speeding ticket) as though the action had occurred in a driver’s home state. The rub was that in order to do so each of the two states must have equivalent statutes. Barring that there would be no “home-state” action against a driver for acts committed in foreign states. For example: if state A punishes spontaneous road racing, but state B does not, if a driver gets busted and convicted for spontaneous road racing in state A and then returns to state B, which is his home state (and state where his license was issued), there would be no consequences in his home state. Though the various DLC’s that exist between the states at first dealt only with more serious traffic offenses (like DUI or careless and reckless driving) over time lesser offenses were included (like simple speeding). Furthermore, not all states signed on as members of the DLC’s; Georgia, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Michigan and Tennessee are not members (meaning that if an out-of-state-driver is busted for a violation there it LIKELY will not be reported to his home state, hence there LIKELY will be no “home-state consequences”.) An important point that we’ll mention again. As is apparent, this compact has only to do with the consequences of driving CONVICTIONS which occur outside of a driver’s home (license) state. For what states do when a ticket is issued out of state and not complied with, we look elsewhere

The Non-Resident Violator Compact of 1977 (NRVC)

This one was drafted in preliminary version by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1965 and was called simply the “Traffic Violators Compact”. The NRVC is most easily understood as simply an iteration of the DLC (above) which has as its focus procedures for compact member states to follow where an out of state driving offense has not been complied with (meaning the ticketed driver failed to pay the ticket or failed to go to court and answer the charges). Under the NRVC where an out-of-state driver is ticketed, if it is not prohibited by that state’s law, the driver must either sign to acknowledge his duty to come to court and deal with the charge (“ROR” or “release on own recognizance”), or must post a cash bond (sometimes paid right to the officer at roadside), or, failing these, must be taken before a judicial official immediately (arrest). Then, when/if the ticketed driver fails to appear or otherwise handle his ticket in a timely fashion, a report is made by the ticket-state’s DMV to the DMV of the home state, whereupon a license suspension notice is issued to the driver describing the procedure for clearing the matter and removing the suspension. Using that compact as a model, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia developed Traffic Summons Reciprocal Agreements. Four years later, New York and New Jersey and several New England entered into similar bilateral reciprocal agreements. Those agreements were procedurally similar to the Non-Resident Violator Compact that was adopted in 1977. At this writing, Alaska, California, Michigan, Montana, Oregon and Wisconsin are not members.
As you may imagine, eventually even interstate bureaucracy realizes that it has created an unwieldy and puzzling bit of law. Faced with the implementation of two separate compacts, one for having out of state traffic convictions and a separate one for failure to pay tickets or come to court, in 2002 the Driver License Agreement (DLA) was promulgated, intending the replacement of the two other interstate compacts with one comprehensive agreement. However, the agreement also goes a bit farther and establishes universal minimum ID requirements for obtaining driver licenses (or ID cards) and mandates that member states only issue driver licenses when a previously-issued out-of-state license has been surrendered. Obviously this is meant to combat the situation where under the agreement a driver license is suspended in one state, but held “validly” in another because the driver has obtained a license in multiple jurisdictions. Read the full text here: At present, only two states. Michigan and Wisconsin are not members.
Ok, so there’s a brief overview of the DLC, NRVC, and DLA. You asked for it. Have fun reading the full text (snooze!).
But where does this put us with our sales guy? Is he looking at suspension or license points in his home state? Well let’s run through it: We know from the NRVC that non-compliance with out of state citations can have home-state effect (and cause license suspension) IF the driver’s home state is a compact member. It would seem then that if our sales guy is from Alaska, California, Michigan, Montana,  Oregon or Wisconsin (non-members of the NRVC compact), he will not face home-state suspension if he “forgets” to come to court (not from his home state perhaps, but the state that issued the ticket might have a bone to chew with him if he gets caught there again and it comes to light that he has not gone to court to answer a prior charge IN THAT SAME STATE). Query also: Under the DLA -which supposedly supersedes the NRVC- only TWO STATES are non-members, Michigan and Wisconsin. The issue of suspension then MAY turn also on whether or not his home state has subscribed to the DLA and not whether it is a member of the NVRC. Sounds like a question for some legal research! But OK, let’s say suspension for non-compliance with an out of state citation is not an issue anyway (because he plans to go to court and get the best deal he can). Will our sales guy get see any repercussions from his 90 in a 70 zone pled down (as is often done) to a 74 in a 70? Again we appeal to the roster of member states. Under the DLC GA, WI, MA, MI, and TN are NOT members, so whatever happens in NC would not affect a license issued by any of those states. HOWEVER, since the DLA purports to replace the DLC and SEEMS to have only MI and WI NOT signing on, it may well be that the list of “safe” states is limited to only two (another good topic for some legal research!).

So what happens to our guy you want to know?

Well, as luck might have it, he is a cheese product salesman and guess where from! You got it! Wisconsin! And Wisconsin is not a member of the DLC, NRVC OR the DLA! Hooray, right? So what’s my advice? Let’s be careful here. Even though it appears that whatever happens in NC stays in NC (apologies to Las Vegas tourism board) I am not in any way condoning some kind of evasion of the law even where it appears that your home state might not punish an out of state traffic ticket or even take any adverse action at all. What I am suggesting is that our cheese guy doesn’t need to sweat it THAT MUCH, especially if he’s not planning on getting an NC license.  He doesn’t need to throw a bunch of money into expensive legal help to have trials and fight the case like crazy to avoid what might happen back home; whatever happens in NC, as far as Wisconsin is concerned, stays in NC (at least under the compacts we talked about here). That being said it still is a good idea to hire a lawyer and get some advice (of course) but the pressure to do so is greatly diminished if it appears the consequences back home are minimal. Yay Wisconsin!
Before we go: This overview of the three compacts and the analysis of the sales guy’s simple speeding ticket is ONE way to look at this problem. It so happens that because he’s a Wisconsin licensee, we conclude that NC tickets will not affect him back home, and that’s  where our analysis stops. But bear in mind, these three compacts, the DLC, NRVC and DLA are -as is most interstate law- complicated and confusing and each is riddled with exceptions that may not hold in all jurisdictions. The type of offense, the member-states’ reporting requirements, and the interaction between the compacts are all relevant to any inquiry and are WAYYYYYY too complicated to be treated here. If you’re “lucky” enough to be licensed and reside in MI or WI this analysis MAY be all you need if your case is identical to the one discussed, but I doubt it is. The better choice, of course, is to consult your favorite lawyer. Which is just what Mr. Cheese guy did, and he’s happy!
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