Do Unpaid US Speeding Tickets Affect Entry to the United States?
There was once a time when receiving a traffic ticket in the United States
would have no effect on your Canadian driving record. Today, many US states
and Canadian provinces have traffic ticket information exchange agreements
meaning that you could receive demerit points on your Canadian driver's license
because of a ticket you received in the United States. If the state in which
the ticket is issued has a reciprocal agreement with your home province, the
violation may appear on your driver's abstract which can affect your car
insurance rate and even result in a license suspension. For example, anyone
with a Quebec or Ontario driver's license that receives a speeding ticket in New
York State may have the violation appear on their driving abstract since NY
shares info with both provinces.
If you receive a traffic ticket in the USA, you should either pay the fine or
arrange to go to court to dispute the ticket. Obviously, the latter option is
not very convenient since you will likely no longer be in the state by the time
your court date is scheduled to occur. If you ignore the ticket and are caught driving
in that state again, you could be arrested and even put in jail. Although an
unpaid traffic ticket will not render a Canadian inadmissible to the United
States (no need for an I-192 US Waiver), border officials will often inform the local Police force that a
"wanted" individual has just entered the country.
This scenario is extremely common for BC drivers in Washington state. A
British Columbia driver's license is automatically suspended three months after a
traffic ticket becomes overdue, and upon entering the United States, the Police will pull
them over and cite them for driving with a suspended license in addition to not
paying their previous ticket. At this point, the Police officer can either
release the individual for a mandatory court date, or they can be booked into
jail. Neither situation is ideal, however, and unless you want to risk needing
to take time off work to drive across the border and attend court you should
always pay your US traffic tickets on time. Regardless of whether it is a ticket for
driving in excess of the speed limit, failure to signal when changing lanes, running a
red light, or failing to stop at a stop sign, not paying the fine can cause
you major problems if you are ever pulled over while driving in that state
again. Being charged for driving while suspended, which is a criminal
misdemeanor, can also have additional ramifications such as causing a person's
Nexus card to be revoked.
If you have any questions or concerns about visiting the United States after not paying a traffic ticket, phone our team today to discuss.