By Trooper Ruben San Miguel & Tami Troell
With the booming oilfield business, which brings in thousands of out of state workers, and summer vacations taken by families coming from all around, we have seen an influx of out-of- state motorists driving our roadways. This is normally not an issue as long as the motorist adheres to our traffic laws.
However, if the non-resident operator is stopped by law enforcement and a citation(s) is issued, it will be reported to the operator’s home state.
The Non-Resident Violator Compact of 1977, which sounds a bit intimidating, was enacted as a way to allow for the efficient processing of traffic violations across state borders. Simply put, if you violate a state traffic law in one of the member states (all states excluding Alaska, Oregon, Montana, Michigan, California and Wisconsin), the citation will be reported to your home state. If you do not pay the fines and fees to the state that issued the citation(s), your home state will suspend your license or take other administrative action until the violation is settled.
Each of us must understand that this compact works in reverse as well. If you are traveling out of state and are stopped for a traffic violation in one of the member states, you, too, must pay your fines and fees to avoid losing your license.
Not all traffic offenses are applicable under this compact including parking violations, registration issues, and vehicle weight limits. However, other citations may be applicable depending on the laws of each state. As with any violation, if a driver takes the responsible action of dealing with the citation, he/she will never be affected by the compact. Rather, it is for drivers who choose to ignore their out of state violations.
If a non-resident is traveling in one of the non-member states listed above and is stopped for violating traffic laws, the driver must post bail before being allowed to proceed on his/her way. For this reason, you should be familiar with the laws of the area you are traveling. Make sure that you carry sufficient resources to pay in the event of a traffic stop.
Texas, along with 45 other states including the District of Columbia, is also a member of the Interstate Driver’s License Compact (non-members include Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin). This agreement, essentially, says that an individual has only one driving record. An offense committed in one state will be reported back to the driver’s home state just as the non-resident compact mentioned earlier.
In its early form, this compact only dealt with serious offenses such as DWI, but through the years, it has been expanded to include any traffic violation that occurred in a non-resident state. For example, if you are stopped for speeding in Louisiana but live in Texas, the violation and points will be assessed on your Texas driver’s license. If the home state does not have a statute for the offense, then no action will be taken on the driver’s record.
As a driver, you must understand and adhere to the laws of the state or states that you are visiting or traveling through. Remember, just as in Texas, ignorance is no excuse for breaking a law.
If you have a question about traffic laws, you can submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or www.facebook.com/happytroells.