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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.

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