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Canadian Drivers and U.S. Traffic Tickets

Traffic Tickets
jason-baxtorJason Baxter

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 Protectionstrongly 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?”.

**NOTE** Posting in the comment section below may not yield an immediate response. Please contact our USA Division by calling 1-888-XCopper.

72 Replies to “Canadian Drivers and U.S. Traffic Tickets”

    1. Some of the US charges do not translate into an Ontario HTA charge, and will not come over. However most common charges do come back onto your Ontario driver’s license with ONTARIO penalties for demerit points.

      The effect on your insurance and your premiums is different from company to company. The insurance company will however be able to see the Ontario conviction on your driver’s abstract.

      For more information see HTA 198(1)

  1. Hi,
    I got a speeding ticket in a small town of Delaware, 42 mile on a road with 25 mile limit. Will this affect my driving record in Ontario? Should I just pay the fine or fight the ticket? Hope you would give me advice. Thanks.

    1. Best approach to this situation is to simply pay the fine.

      A Speeding ticket, or any traffic ticket for that matter, in Delaware will not affect your Ontario Drivers Licence. Currently there is NO reciprocal agreement between the Ontario and Delaware.

      If you do NOT pay the ticket, your driving privileges will be suspended only in Delaware.

      Note: Some states may also issue a warrant for unpaid traffic tickets.

  2. Any traffic ticket received in any other Province or Territory [in Canada] will result in a conviction and/or demerit points being recorded on your driving record in Ontario. There are even some states that have a reciprocal agreement with Ontario which could affect your driving record in Ontario. [For Example] Ontario has a reciprocal agreement with the state of New York and Michigan.

    1. This is very true. Many states are jumping on the reciprocal bandwagon and the “loop hole” is closing. One other thing to take into account is that reciprocal works both ways. Even US residents that get a ticket in Canada must we careful as it not come back to them in the US.

  3. Hello! You are saing that Some of the US charges do not translate into an Ontario HTA charge, and will not come over. However most common charges do come back onto your Ontario driver’s license with ONTARIO penalties for demerit points. Could you please provide a list or source of not translate US charges into an Ontario HTA.
    Thank you & have a nice day

    1. I am not sure ther is a simple translation table for this however i will try to find some examples from our USA division. You are correct that MOST charges, especially the common ones, do have a reciprical.

      1. I have confirmed that there is no easy way to match these charges up. First of all they are few and far between. It is all in the wording of the US law vs the same one in Canada. This is really done on a case by case basis as each case is unique. We work closely with Attorneys in the US to review and analyze the charges and advise for the best possible outcome for our clients.

  4. Hello
    I got a speeding ticket in Michigan, 83 mile on the road with 70 mile limit, I was switching the lines,that cost me $170.The information on ticket is wrong,plate number from car I was driving and year from my second car. What I have to do, pay for this ticket or go to the court? How much I must pay for the court? Sorry for my English !
    Please Help Me !!!

    1. Unfortunatly the information that was incorrectly entered will have bearing on the outcome. If you have an ontario license, the Michigan ticket will come back on to your driving record/Abstract at 3 Ontario demerit points.

  5. Hi,

    I recently (3am this mornning) got a ticket for “No/Inadequate Lights”… my headlight was blown, I had no idea. Im an Ontario resident, and I received this “ticket” (its a sheet of paper? like the length of my arm, that doesnt say a price, or anything. I got this ticket in Upstate NY and I am so confused as to what I have to do. The cop told me I have until 5pm tonight to fix it and have it back to them, yet I live in ONTARIO, I was driving home… Am i supposed to drive 6.5 hours to take this back to them? He also said nothing will happen to my license, no points etc. But he didnt tell me what to do. Mail will probably take, god only knows how long, and according to this paper ticket thing, I have until 12/17/12 to have it back to them. I dont want to plead anything. What the heck do I do.

    1. You have to have the plea of guilty or not guilty in the courts hands by the December date. This charge does NOT carry demerit points. However i do not know if this charge will be moved over to your ontario driver’s license or not. For a definate answer, I suggest you contact the MTO New York Convictions Unit.

  6. I got a ticket in Michigan for, driving to close, will this effect my Ontario Drivers Licence. Also how much do i have to pay for the ticket?

    1. If the infraction is FOLLOWINGtoo close, which I believe it is, it will cross over at 4 demerit points in Ontario. As far as the fine is concerned, that is up to the court. You can simply call the court and they will advise if he pleads guilty, how much it would be. There is a quick timeline for filing to fight a ticket in Michigan, so the decision must be made quickly.

  7. I got a speeding ticket in West Virginia, Michigan, 72 mile on the road with 65 mile limit, I was going down of the hill, and I got my firt speeding ticket i live in ontario, please advise me, I gonna pay the fee but I am worry about my insurance in Canada..

  8. I got a speeding ticket in West Virginia, USA, I was driven 72 mile on the road with 65 mile limit, I was going down of the hill, and I got my first speeding ticket, I am from Ontario, please advise me, I gonna pay the fee, but I am worry about my insurance in Canada.

    1. Because your ticket was under 80mph, the ticket from West Virginia will NOT come back to affect your Ontario License, and as the insurance company will not have evidence of the offence.

      You can mail in our guilty plea to the courts. And additional thing you can do while mailing in your plea is to add a separate letter explaining the scenario and respectfully ask if they could lower the fine. It does not always work, but it if successfully the courts will lower your fine.

        1. The difference between Under 80MPH and Over 80MPH in West Virginia is more than just a differnt traffic charge. Under 80MPH is a civil (traffic) infraction. Over 80MPH becomes a misdemeanor charge.

          Since OVER 80MPH is not a traffic charge it will Still NOT be applied on to an Ontario abstract. However, since it is a misdemeanor charge CAN be classified as criminal, and thus could possibly give you problems at the border in the future. It is rare but it happens.

  9. I have a similar situation. I was ticketed on the interstate in Mississippi. 77mph in a 50 mph zone (the limit had just dropped). I am an Ontario resident with a G licence and an otherwise perfect driving record. Are there any insurance implications? I’m confused about the nature of the reciprocal agreements. I understand that NY and Michigan share comprehensive agreements with Ontario, but my research has suggested that 41 states (including Mississippi) have some sort of agreement in place. Your advise is much appreciated.

    1. If you only hold an Ontario License then the points from Mississippi will NOT come back to Ontario as there is no agreement for this offence with Ontario. There will be NO impact on his insurance.

      Many people make the mistake of searching the internet to find that there are in fact reciprocal agreements with Ontario but fail to read it carefully. If you read the information carefully you will see that the agreement is in relations to LICENSE SUSPENSIONS only.

  10. Hi, I am a Canadian residing in BC. I was caught speeding in Merced, California and have received notice to pay by the end of the month. The amount is $366.00 and I am flying to San Diego in March. Naturally I would rather not pay the fine, will I be detained at the airport in California? I do not plan on driving while there. Thanks.

    1. Well you will not be detained, so flying should not be a problem you should not be detained. But you cannot drive.
      As for a warrant going out for your arrest for unpaid fines, there is no way a warrant can get out that quickly. That is assuming they actually issue, the chances of that are slim.

  11. Hi I got a speeding ticket 91 mph on a 65 mph zone. I am from Canada. I plead guilty and and paid the fine of $265 but then another letter came. It is a Driver Responsibility Assessment Statement stating i have to pay another $300 and 6 demerit points. It says the New York Licence will be suspended. Does this apply to me? Do I have to pay this fine? Will I get the 6 demerit points on my Ontario Licence? Thanks

  12. Received a 70mph in a 55mph in NY outside buffalo last weekend. Was only doing that speed for a little time after a downgrade and only 2nd speeding infraction in 25 years driving…both of them in the states. Should I just pay the fine and be done with it? I was also behind two other cars going faster than I was but the police pulled me over. The police cruiser was travelling in opposite direction to me. Thanks.

  13. I received a ticket on I 77 in Virginia today for going 83 MPH in a 70 zone. Because I didn’t try to argue the point, I was surprised I was doing 83 but I was speeding up to pass traffic that was not doing 70 so it was possible i guess, the trooper told me he did not charge me with reckless driving, which he could have but just the speeding ticket @ $6 per mile over.
    If I pay the fine will the infraction show up on my license in Ontario? I have rwad no on other web sites but all of those threads are 5 to 7 years old?

    1. Technically any speed over 80 SHOULD be a reckless driving charge, and yes, it IS a misdemeanor. Just to be safe, I would always have a legal professional look at the ticket to advice the consequences before taking the officers ‘word’ on it.

      A misdemeanor charge is more serious than a regular civil infraction, and although neither will come back on to his/her Ontario ‘driving record’ a misdemeanor COULD give you issues in the future if not dealt with.

  14. Hello,
    I recently received a speeding ticket of 83 in a 70 in Virginia (so 13 over). I read in an above post that over 80 can be a misdemeanor charge and is a criminal offense? Is that the case in Virginia? Does Virgina have these reciprocal agreements? And what happens if you do not pay the fine at all? Can that cause issues at the border or only if you go back to the state?
    Thanks for your help!

  15. Hi there,

    I received a speeding ticket in NY for 85 in a 65 zone. I have already paid the fine of $230 and a surcharge of $85 totaling $135. Now I received a letter from MTO saying that I am to surrender my license by March 3rd as it will be suspended for 30 days. Is there anything that could be done to appeal or fight this suspension? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

  16. I received a ticket in Niagara Falls, NY for running a red light. I remember looking at the light when I went through the intersection and it was yellow. The officer said it was red before I enterened the intersection. I am going to court to plead not guilty. I have a clean driving record. Do you think I will be let off.

  17. Hello,
    I am from BC and I received a speeding ticket in Merced CA. I have not paid the ticket yet…. I was thinking about driving to Reno NV sometime this year with my friend. If I do not pay the ticket will I have any issues at the border even if I am not driving the vehicle we take? We would enter through the peace arch border crossing.
    Thanks

  18. Hi,

    I received a speeding ticket in NY. I already sent in my plea and paid the ticket. Is it too late to do anything in order for this not to appear on my Ontario record ?

  19. I received a ticked yesterday in new york, just an hour away from the buffalo- Canada boarder. i was speeding at 60mph in 45mph zone.

    Officer has asked me to send in mail, guilty or Not guilty.

    Please advise how to proceed with this.

    Thanks in advance!

  20. Good day,

    Help please i received a ticket for doing 95 mph in a 65 mph zone. And today I’m noticing a 2nd ticket for improper lane change. I am a resident of Canada toronto ONT.
    Both tickets has no fine amount but have the option to mail in my plea of guilty or not guilty .The offence happened in Buffalo NY. Im not sure if i should plead guilty or not guilty? Will this offence transfer to my Ontario record? any suggestion of what the out come might be if i plea guilty or not guilty… Thanks so much

  21. I got a speeding ticket in the town of Orleans, county of Jefferson…state of NY….while returning from NJ to Toronto…speeding in a 65 MPH zone at 80 MPH…its a strange ticket as it does not have any monetary fine on it….it just asks me to either plead guilty or not and send it back…..i asked the officer about it and he said to just respond with guilty or not and then the judge will decide the fine….How do I respond…I dont really recollect going that fast….might have done it momentarily when i wanted to rush into the rest area to take a pee

  22. Hi there,

    I m from Ontario and hold a valid G license and recently got a ticket in Wisconsin going 79mph in a 65mph zone. I was slapped with a $200.50 ticket. Will this affect my demerit points in Ontario and will my insurance go up? Any help would be appreciated. And what do you suggest I do?

  23. I got a speeding ticket in the town of Hancock going 70 mph in a 55 mph zone. The highway has been at 65 mph all along and just a few miles back it changed to 55 mph. Should I pay the fine and plea guilty? Will this be reflected on my license in Ontario? Please advise?

    1. If you pay the fine, it WILL be reflected on your Ontario driving abstract as a 3 demerit point speeding offence. The charge will remain on your record for 3 years following. You always have the option to challenge this, and X Copper handles most of New York, including Hancock Town Court.

  24. Hello there,

    I recently received a speeding ticket in Massachusetts for over 20mph. I understand that there is no reciprocal agreement with Ontario. Will they issue a warrant for unpaid tickets in that states? Will i have problem crossing border? Can border custom agents Retrieve info about unpaid tickets on my drivers license from passport?

    Thanks

    1. You’re right. There is NO reciprocal agreement between the two. They COULD issue a warrant, and the border may have access to this information. Although it is rare they issue from a simple speeding ticket, it could happen. If you can afford the ticket, just make payment to the appropriate court.

  25. I received a ticked last week in new york, just an hour away from the buffalo- Canada boarder.It is for Back Seat Pass less than 4 Improper restraint.
    Officer has asked me to send in mail, guilty or Not guilty.

    Please advise how to proceed with this.

    Thanks in advance!

  26. I got a speeding ticket in Pennsylvania, 70 in a 55 zone, any agreement with Pennsylvania and Ontario, much appreciated

    1. There is NO reciprocal between Pennsylvania and Ontario, go ahead and pay the ticket. It will not affect your driving record.

      1. Similar situation with my wife – clocked at 83 on 65. Fine at 165.50. Called you on phone and left a voice mail.

        How about insurance? Will my insurance company be informed (directly or indirectly) and reflected if I pay up the fine by pleading guilty?

        More so if I want to change my insurance company in future, will this offense get pulled up?

  27. While visiting Detroit MI for the Woodward dream cruse ( a huge rolling car show where everyone plays a little at the lights etc. I was stopped for Squealing my tires. $130.00 fine. I live in Ontario and was wondering if this will have any effect on my ON DL?

    1. Unfortunately “Squealing my tiers” is not a proper charge and as such we cannot provide and insight to how it could affect your ticket. I’d suggest contacting our New York division a 1-888-X-Copper and speak to them directly.

  28. I got a speeding ticket in the Town of Brant in New York. The ticket states a speed of 87 in a 65 zone. What are my options? I understand that if I plead guilty, it will show up on my driver abstract of Ontario. Please advise.

    1. You have been informed correctly. Due to the reciprocal agreement that exists between the Province of Ontario and New York State, not only would the offence be recorded as a conviction on your driving record, you would be looking at 4 Ontario Demerit Points being applied to your record as well.

      This can not only cause impact with your driving record and potentially your insurance premiums, but you can be facing some rather large fines in some cases.

      Fighting a ticket in New York is a very different process than fighting a similar ticket here in Ontario, however it does have its benefits. I would never advise to outright pay this type of ticket. At X-Copper we have a division committed to taking on offences in New York specifically for this reason. I would invite you to contact X-Copper for a free consultation to discuss how this New York State process works, as well as what options may be available to you in your specific situation.

  29. I received a ticket for ‘Failing to stop’ in Barrie, Ontario. I am from California, but had flown to Buffalo, rented a car and driven up to Ontario. I saw the officer and stopped at the stop sign. But after I turned the corner and the officer saw my NY license plate, he pulled me over. I can not afford to fly back just to fight the ticket in court. If I pay the $110 ticket, will the demerit points affect my California insurance. Is there a reciprocal agreement between Ontario and California for this type of situation? Please advise.

  30. Hello Sir,

    I got a speeding ticket in Delware, US on freeway, ticket says measured speed 85, Charged speed 60 and posted speed 55, I am from Ontario, Do I get demarit points ? the fine is 87.00.

    Kindly advise if I should pay this fine ?

    Thanks in advance.
    Espee.

  31. Does Vermont have a reciprocal agreement with Ontario? If the infraction was “passing in an intersection”, will they issue a warrant of arrest?

  32. Hi there,

    I got two tickets while down in the united states this past weekend, one was 65 in a 55 which was issued in New Hampshire and the other was 80 in a 65 in Massachusett. I am an Ontario resident with an Ontario issued drivers license and just wanted to make sure that by paying the tickets there will be no record of it in Canada. Ie. it will not affect my insurance rate or even show up in the system?

    Thank you!

  33. got a speeding ticket in the Town of lindley in New York. The ticket states a speed of 84 in a 65 zone. I asked the office how much will be the charge, he said thats for the judge to decide. What are my options? I understand that if I plead guilty, it will show up on my driver abstract of Ontario. Please advise.

  34. Hello, I got a reckless by speed ticket for going 88mph in a 70 zone in the state of Virginia, and was wondering if they would have access to this info at the boarder? I live in Ontario, and do cross over from time to time. Also it says that my license will be suspended if I don’t pay the fine. Does that mean my license will be suspended in Canada & other states, or just in Virginia. I don’t plan on going back to Virginia anytime soon, and would much rather avoid paying the large fine if I only have to avoid Virginia.

  35. I got dinged for a 52 in a 35 zone in Vermont last week when I sped up into the 50 zone about a hundred feet too early 🙁 Do Ontario and Vermont still not have a reciprocal agreement in place? The $165 fine is okay but I would prefer not to have the 3 points on my record. Thanks!

  36. Hey there,

    I recently got a speeding fine in the state of Georgia, I had paid the fine and they had confirmed it was received. Now I just recieved a letter in the mail saying that my license will be suspended. The letter is from the state of Georgia, does this mean my license is suspended in Ontario too ?

    Thanks,
    V.

  37. Hi I received a stop sign violation ticket in Michigan. I have a Ontario License. Will the Insurance company be notified and will this be on my record?

    THANKS!

  38. Hi there,

    I received a ticket for doing 88mph on a 70mph highway. I’m from Ontario and was wondering how it’s affect my record here. The comments above read that it’ll mean a misdemeanor. How long does that stick? If it’s for 3-5 years, can I simply avoid going to the US in that time so that there is no hassle?

    Thanks again!

  39. I am an Ontario resident and got a speeding ticket on I-81, in Cortlandville, New York, doing 83 mph in a 65 mph zone. It was my first ticket, south of the border, in 27 years of visiting the US by road. Their system is not as straight forward as Ontario. You need to fill out the form that’s attached to the ticket and mail it in to let them know how you wish to plead and only then they will respond back with the amount of the fine. In my case, I wrote a letter admitting guilt with an explanation and requested they give me an alternate ticket for a non-moving violation so it does not affect my insurance. The process was tedious only because the Town of Cortlandville’s District Attorney’s office (for Traffic Violation) was swamped and very inefficient. They responded back with a Pre-Trial Conference (court date) from the Town of Cortlandville and a letter from the DA’s office with a list of documents required to consider my request for an alternate offence. The list included (1) copy of my ticket, (2) a letter of explanation as to why they should consider my request, (3) an Ontario driver’s abstract which you can get from a Service Ontario office for $12) and (4) a self addressed envelope. I promptly met their requirements and was confident there will be a speedy resolution. Let me tell you, I was wrong, so be patient and keep on top of it. Long story short, after requesting 3 different postponements of court date, I finally got what I wanted. After several phone calls, a few letters and faxes, I received a muffler violation as an alternate offence, which I accepted and then the Court sent me a fine for $75 + surcharge of $65 totalling USD 138. I paid the fine and that was the end of it. From the date of violation to their acknowledgement of payment took close to 8 months, which I didn’t mind at all. It’s a small price to pay for big savings on your insurance premiums. However, if you want to save the trouble and don’t mind paying the money for someone else to deal with the headaches, please contact X-Copper. You may have to pay as much as $300 to $400, plus of course the amount of the fine but might be well worth the money depending on how badly you want to avoid a moving violation and how much time you have or don’t have to deal with the trouble. I know people who have used X-Copper and they were very satisfied.

    Hope you find this helpful. Good luck!

  40. I got a speeding ticket in Wisconsin. 25 miles over and 6 demerit points. Will this be sent to my insurance company in Ontario? Does Wisconsin have a reciprocol agreement with Ontario? I paid the fine with my visa at the side of the road. He said my only other choice was to go to the county jail for the weekend.

  41. Hey! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 4!
    Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts!
    Carry on the superb work!

  42. Hello
    I have gotten a speeding ticket in California back in 2008/2009, I have not paid the ticket, and I did receive one in the mail but it got lost because I moved and nothing was ever forward to my new address, will there be any consequences if I return back to California via plane From Canada? Not sure what the fine totaled now it has been way to long.
    what will happen if i travel back there in future. ?? thanks

  43. I know someone who received a speeding ticket in New Mexico but is a resident of ON. Are there any consequences of not paying the fine?

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