Driving out of state can be exciting, whether you are dropping your child off at college, enjoying a family road trip or traveling through the area for business. When you are away from your home state, it can feel like anything may be around the corner.
However, if you are not careful, the excitement of your travels can be distracting. You wouldn’t be the first visitor Georgia law enforcement officers caught accidentally speeding or committing another traffic violation.
What happens if you get a traffic citation while visiting Georgia?
Georgia is one of only four states that is not part of the Driver License Compact (DLC), which is an agreement to exchange driving history information between states. This means that Georgia is not legally obligated to share information with your home state about your driving record if you commit a traffic offense in Georgia.
However, Georgia will automatically report a citation to your home state unless you negotiate otherwise. This may not initially seem like a big deal, but it can cause problems for you.
Laws can vary state to state
Many of the potential problems can arise when traffic laws do not match up between states. This means that an offense that may be minor in Georgia could be treated as a more severe offense in your home state.
For example, sometimes Georgia law enforcement officers may try to cut a driver a break by issuing a “Too Fast for Conditions” citation instead of issuing a speeding ticket. A Georgia resident with this citation would simply pay an inexpensive fine to the city or county that issued the citation and would not have points added to his or her license. However, some states do not have a “Too Fast for Conditions” citation, and there is no telling what someone’s home state may try to convert the ticket to.
Your home state could convert it to a speeding ticket, which could result in points being added to your driver’s license after all. Alternatively, your home state might convert it to a reckless driving charge, which could result in even greater penalties than a speeding ticket would have been if the officer hadn’t tried to do you a favor.
Penalties may not be consistent between states
Another time an out of state traffic citation may cause you problems is when the penalties for a citation do not match up between states. For example, if a Georgia officer catches you driving 84 miles per hour in a 70 mile per hour zone, you would likely get a speeding ticket. If you had been a Georgia resident, the state would penalize you with a fine, but you would not have points added to your driver’s license.
However, your home state may treat this differently. For instance, Florida drivers who are cited for driving 84 miles per hour in a 70 mile per hour zone would have the same number of points added to their license as if they had been traveling 90 miles per hour in that same zone.
The best way to avoid unfair consequences is to avoid violating any traffic laws in the first place, but accidents happen. The next best way to avoid unfair consequences is to negotiate for Georgia to dismiss or not report a citation to your home state.