Receiving a traffic ticket when you’re visiting the United States can be more stressful than usual. Not only are you facing the prospect of paying the ticket, but you’re unsure of the consequences.
Will you have demerit points added to your driving record? Will your car insurance rates go up? Can you get away without paying the fine?
4 Things Canadian Drivers Should Know About U.S. Traffic Tickets
First, how a U.S. traffic ticket affects your Canadian driver license, driving record and insurance rates can vary depending on your home province and the state in which you received a speeding ticket or other violation.
If you’re unsure, don’t pay the ticket before you contact a legal and traffic ticket specialist that has offices and expertise in both Canada and the U.S., like X-Copper.
Here are a few things you should know if you’re Canadian and have received a U.S. traffic ticket.
- Reciprocal Agreements – Two Canadian provinces have reciprocal agreements regarding traffic tickets with U.S. States that border them. Ontario has reciprocal agreements with Michigan and New York, and Quebec has reciprocal agreements with New York and Maines. The reciprocal agreements mean that the tickets you get in states that have a reciprocal agreement with your home province will be reported to your province’s driver’s licence ministry. In those cases, a U.S. ticket could result in the same penalties that you would get at home. Your insurance company might increase your insurance rates. You may get demerit points on your record. You may even get a criminal record and/or a driver’s license suspension, depending on the nature of the ticket.
- Any U.S. Traffic Ticket – Even if your province has no reciprocal agreements with any U.S. states, and you get a U.S. traffic ticket, you may face serious consequences if you don’t pay the ticket or have it dismissed and your vehicle is stopped for any reason in that state.
- In Ontario – Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act allows that an Ontario driver’s license may be suspended for failing to “pay a judgement” in other jurisdictions, including 41 of the 51 states. So, if your unpaid ticket from one of those 41 states results in a judgement against you, your Ontario drivers’ license may be suspended.
- In Other Provinces – Many provinces will record criminal code convictions for U.S. driving violations on Canadian driver’s records, if they are notified of the conviction.
Entering the U.S with Unpaid Traffic Tickets
If you have unpaid U.S. traffic tickets from any state, you may have trouble returning to the U.S by car. U.S. Customs and Border Protection “strongly advise you to pay your traffic tickets, particularly moving violations. While unpaid tickets would not subject you to arrest unless a warrant is issued, you may be subject to a more intensive inspection if your record is not clear.”
To learn more about the consequences of driving violations, check out our article “What is the Penalty for Dangerous Driving?”.
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